The Freemasons may be steeped in mystique, with speculation about secret symbols and conspiracy theories, but tomorrow, Washington Lodge will unveil a few of its sacred treasures: a set of original jewels handcrafted by none other than Paul Revere. The Masons of Washington Lodge, as all Masons across New England, are opening their doors to the public tomorrow from 9 to 3, where they will display select items, such as Revere's silver jewels, and answer some questions about their practices.
It was also Revere who signed Washington Lodge, named after the most famous U.S. freemason, President George Washington, into existence, said lodge "Worshipful Master" Matthew Brennan, of Waltham.
"Revere was not only a historic icon, but also Grand Master of Masonry in Massachusetts at the time of our lodge's inception in March 1796. And not only did he sign our charter so we could do the business of masonry, he also crafted our original set of jewels and presented them as a gift to our lodge," Brennan said "
The jewels of the lodge are worn by the proper officer in his station as a badge of his office, Brennan said.The Masons will lay out their lodge regalia, which features collars with dangling jewels, and other items showing a brother's status: a master has a gavel, and other officers have staffs or truncheons, akin to a baton, Brennan said. Brennan, a teacher in Peabody, claims recent books like Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," have created some erroneous ideas about the fraternal organization. "We're not a secret society we're in the phone book. You can't be secret if you're in the phone book," said Brennan, laughing". We just have secrets, that's all," he said. " As "Worshipful Master" of his lodge, Brennan said there are just some things he won't discuss."I made a promise not to tell certain things, and I won't do it," said Brennan, adding that his vow of secrecy is a personal promise, and it's conceivable a curious person could find the guarded information on the Web". The fraternal group is set up like any organization, with a president, treasurer, and secretary, he said, noting, "We just use old English names. "The historical roots haven't changed," Brennan said. " Washington Lodge, which Brennan called a young lodge, has 81 members, 10 of whom are under age 35, and has had 3,400 since its inception. Brennan and Bill Hanley, a Waltham Board of Public Health member and lodge secretary, said they are proud of their lodge's history."One thing that sets us apart from any other lodge on the planet is that our lodge was named after a man who was still alive (at the time of the naming)," said Hanley." "There wasn't a man like George Washington on the planet. People offered to make him king, but he refused and then he made his officers feel guilty about trying to make him king. He was remarkable, just the kind of person who deserved to have a lodge named after him," Hanley said. Hanley and Brennan, both Waltham residents, said they chose to join Washington Lodge partly because the old Waltham lodge at the corner of Main and Moody streets burned down years ago, and was moved to Newtonville. "Then one day, Bill saw Washington Lodge, and it was like a moth to a flame," said Brennan. While attending a Patriots Day parade in Lexington, Hanley noticed the Washington Lodge, found the name compelling, and made a mental note to check it out, he recalled. "It was right around the time when the movie, 'National Treasure' came out," which further piqued his curiosity, he said. "We were a couple of history buffs, and I was in a college fraternity". While attending a Patriots Day parade in Lexington, Hanley noticed the Washington Lodge, found the name compelling, and made a mental note to check it out, he recalled."It was right around the time when the movie, 'National Treasure' came out," which further piqued his curiosity, he said. "We were a couple of history buffs, and I was in a college fraternity, so I knew about the Masons. It was something I thought about doing, and I saw that masons offered something more than other fraternities," Hanley said. The lodge is on the brink of adopting Waltham as the community where it will offer all its charity work, Hanley said. "Brennan explained that Freemasons are basically fraternities with a foundation "firmly rooted in its charity work. "Said Hanley: "It sounds kind of hokey, but the motto is true: 'We make good men better.' Washington Lodge, at 1 Harrington Road, Lexington, will hold a free open house tomorrow, Oct. 17, from 9 to 3. All are invited to attend.