Two stories in height, the Masonic Lodge Room is the most important space above the main level. The Lodge Room has a rectangular shape; the East and West walls (sidewalls) are longer than the North and South walls. The most important features within the room are the 12 horizontal figurative murals as well as hand painted decoration on the walls. The space also offers excellent woodwork, including coffered beams, crown molding, chair rails, doors, etc. All of the wood trim is of stained oak.
In 1917 Austrian immigrant artist Leo Henke painted the beautiful murals and the painted decoration in the Lodge Room. Mr. Henke was not a Mason. He received the inspiration for the murals from a 1903 edition of the Illustrated History of Freemasonry. The painting was executed with a technique named “al secco” which means painting on a dry support, in this case plaster. This is different from painting on a wet support called “al fresco.”
So, the murals were painted directly on the walls, and according to its appearance, the painting medium was oil or oil-modified casein bound paint. At some later date an uneven layer of linseed oil varnish was applied with large brushes over the entire surface of the walls. The runs of varnish and the unevenness of the varnish layer can be seen in many areas. Also- this type of varnish has two important disadvantages: 1) It darkens and changes the color over time (turns brown-yellow); and 2) It is very difficult to remove. And, of course, over the top of the hand painted decoration and the varnish is a top layer of 100 years of dust and smoke.
Under the original oak crown molding a 6” wide oak board was added. This extra piece of trim covers a 3” inches of the upper part of the murals which alters the aesthetical appearance of them. Presently the murals are smaller, and their proportion has changed.
The subject of these 12 murals revolve around the construction of the Temple of Solomon and the death of King Hiram of Tyre, who sent building materials and men for the original construction for the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. The tradition is that King Hiram had been Grand Master of all Masons; he prayed daily for guidance from his God before drawing the designs that would set the craftsmen to work.
Starting with the back wall (South) and going clockwise the figurative murals are as follows (and can be seen on our website):
- The Tomb of Cyrus
- The Building of King Solomon’s Temple
- The Tomb of Hiram, King of Tyre
- The Mount of Olives
- Sea of Genesareth
- Highest Hill or Lowest Valley
- The Cedars of Lebanon
- The Clay Grounds
- The Stone Quarry
- The Burning Bush
- The Port of Joppa