After years of seeing it on the schedule, we finally decided to go check out the Masonic Hall on 23rd Street as part of Open House New York.
The masons are a secret society, a fraternity that pledges to "take good men, and make them better." Their ways of going about that - and many of the other things that they do - are mysterious and steeped heavily in symbolism and, somewhat bafflingly, geometry (as evidenced by the glowing "G" in every room).
"Marble" pillars are plaster
There are a number of meeting rooms, each built, designed, and restored in a different color palette, style, and theme, ranging from French to Greek to English castle.
painted to look like cloth
The garish designs of the rooms are reflected in likewise stylized pipe organs, one in every room.
There were plenty of ornate touches, including gold leaf pillars, wood carvings, altars, and glowing chandeliers...
...and a gold statue of George Washington, also a mason.
Although this site isn't particularly hard to get into (there are even more extensive tours given six days a week), it's one of the weirder and more inexplicable stops on the OHNY itinerary, and therefore, in my book, worth a visit.
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