Ever wondered what, exactly, was inside the imposing Mount Hermon Masonic Lodge on Broadway in downtown Asheville? Well, Mountain Xpress was there on Saturday, Aug. 16, when the lodge threw its doors open and invited the public in to help it celebrate its 160th birthday at a well-attended fundraiser.
The rare look inside the massive building, designed by well-known architect Richard Sharp Smith (the man who supervised the construction of the Biltmore House), revealed a welcoming building marked by the mementos, unique meeting rooms and tributes to generations of local Freemasons. The event raised money for an orphanage and a retirement home.
Chamber music and friendly greeters welcomed guests, who took in a buffet dinner and bluegrass music. There was a library, history-filled halls with dozens of photos of past dignitaries, a blue-carpeted room for general gatherings and a Scottish Rite Cathedral on the third floor (with fourth-floor balcony.) The theater is the place where masons, obtaining degrees, act out important steps in moral progress before combinations of hand-painted backdrops dating back to 1915.
Lodge members are working on a plan to offer the building as a community event-and-performance space. For the time being, have a look inside by clicking on the photo to view an audio-slideshow tour of the building.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor