« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

February 2010

Travel to Treasured Lands

For the past twenty-five years, I have been privileged to travel, trek, and climb in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the earth. My goal has always been to bring back the wonders I’ve seen to people who can’t get there.
 --Quang-Tuan Luong


The Museum’s new exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight National Parks in Focus” features breathtaking large-format photographs taken by computer scientist-turned-photographer Quang-Tuan Luong. “Treasured Lands” offers the perspective of a world traveler whose personal commitment to preserving America’s beauty and natural resources shows in his work. By capturing the distinguishing features of each national park, Luong shares his understanding of what makes each place unique.

Luong’s experiences in traveling to all 58 national parks, as described in the exhibitions text, are also unique. He kayaked through iceberg-laden waters, canoed down wild rivers, scuba-dived tropical seas, climbed to the summit of Mt. McKinley, and frequently trekked the trailless terrain of the backcountry, all while lugging his 75-pound large format camera, photo gear, and camping equipment.

Gates of the Arctic, gaar21072.large When reviewing the text before the exhibition was installed, I looked on the National Park Service’s web site for additional information about some of the parks. I was struck by how remote many of them are. Only an experienced backpacker and outdoorsperson would be able to visit Gates of the Arctic National Park, for example, since it has no roads and is only accessible by floatplane. Much of the information provided on the NPS’s “Things To Know Before You Come” link have to do with wilderness survival and bear safety. Not a vacation that will appeal to everyone! Although I love visiting national parks, I prefer a hotel bed to a sleeping bag. I knew I would never visit this park in person, and welcomed the opportunity to see it through Luong’s photograph.

For a trip to a wide variety of landscapes that you might not otherwise see—from the rugged glaciers and mountains to lush, tropical islands and everything in between—visit “Treasured Lands,” on view through October 20, 2010. Mr. Luong will speak at the Museum about his experiences as an adventurous photographer of the national parks on March 14, 2010, at 2 PM as part of our Lowell Lecture Series. 

Photo: The Maidens, Gates of the Arctic National Park, August 2000. Alaska. © Quang-Tuan Luong


Change to Symposium Program on April 9, 2010

Checkerboard for symposium We recently had a change to the program for our Symposium on April 9, 2010, "New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism."  Adam G. Kendall of the Henry W. Coil Library and Museum at the Grand Lodge of California will now be presenting.  Read on for up-to-date information about the day.

The symposium will explore new research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present.  The keynote speaker is professor and author Jessica Harland-Jacobs of the University of Florida.  She will speak on how using world history methodologies furthers understanding of fraternalism as a historical phenomenon.  Other presenters from the United States, Canada and Britain include:

  • Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, University of Michigan, "Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders in Antebellum Virginia"
  • Hannah M. Lane, Mount Allison University, "Freemasonry and Identity/ies in 19th-Century New Brunswick and Eastern Maine"
  • Nicholas Bell, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, "An Ark of the New Republic"
  • David Bjelajac, George Washington University, "Freemasonry, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the Fraternal Ethos of American Art"
  • Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, "Nationalism, Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s"
  • Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, "Klad in White Hoods and Aprons: American Fraternal Identities, Freemasonry and the Ku Klux Klan in California, 1921-1928"

Registration is open; the deadline to register is March 24, 2010.  Please visit the Museum's website to register and for more information.

 


A White House Foundation Stone

Init Eye White House At the end of World War II, President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) became aware that the White House needed extensive repairs.  Plaster was cracked, floors were sagging and repeated coats of white paint had covered the decorative carving on the exterior.  Upon further examination, the conditions were discovered to be even worse than anticipated.  A refurbishment project for the White House was undertaken over several years: the interior was completely removed and the exterior walls were supported with stronger foundations.  A steel frame was built within the shell.

During an inspection of the construction, President Truman noticed carvings on some of the stones in the original White House walls.  These marks were “signatures” left by the eighteenth-century stonemasons who worked on the original construction.  President Truman, an active Freemason, arranged for many of these stones to be sent to Grand Lodges across the United States.

The stone pictured here was sent to the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts in 1952 along with a letter signed by President Truman.  The president explained that “these evidences of the number of members of the Craft who built the President’s official residence so intimately aligns Freemasonry with the formation and founding of our Government that I believe your Grand Lodge will cherish this link between the Fraternity and the Government of the Nation, of which the White House is a symbol.”GL2004_0146S1 White House Stone

One of the White House foundation stones is on view as part of the National Heritage Museum’s exhibition, "The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry, and the Architecture of Washington, D.C."  The exhibition presents 21 oil paintings by Peter Waddell based on the architecture of Washington, D.C., and the role that our founding fathers and prominent citizens – many of whom were Freemasons – played in establishing the layout and design of the city.  The exhibition is supplemented with approximately forty objects from the National Heritage Museum’s collection. 

"The Initiated Eye" will be on view through January 9, 2011.  The paintings in the exhibition are the work of Peter Waddell, and were commissioned by, and are the property of, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C., with all rights reserved.  This exhibition is supported by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.

Left: Within These Walls, 2005, Peter Waddell (b. 1955), Washington, D.C.  Courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C.  Right: White House Foundation Stone, 1792-1800, American, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the National Heritage Museum, GL2004.0146.  Photograph by David Bohl.


Last Chance to See "For All Time"

Open just through this Sunday, February 21st, the exhibition “For All Time:  Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum” is filled with fascinating stories.

The career of Eugene Fitch (b. 1846) is one.  Originally a dry goods merchant, Eugene Fitch turned to invention in the 1880s.  After applying for patents for a display unit for thread and improvements to the typewriter, in the early 1900s, he sought patents for a clock. 

Plato Clock smaller What was new about his clock?  Rather than showing the time with hands on a numbered dial, Fitch’s “time indicator” used small die-cut celluloid plates to display the hour and minute.   He named it “The Plato Clock,” after the white “plates” that showed the time.

The American clock-manufacturing powerhouse, The Ansonia Clock Company, produced the Plato Clock from at least 1904 to 1906.  Their catalog described it as “the latest in Novelty Clocks.”  Ansonia went on to claim that the little gold clock kept perfect time and sold “on sight.”  In addition to the American-produced models, French and German companies sold copies of Fitch’s design on the continent through 1914.

What happened to Eugene Fitch?  Currently, we don’t know but hope that future research will tell us more about the inventor of the Plato clock and his next big idea.

Photograph:

The Plato Clock, 1904–1907. Eugene L. Fitch (b. 1846), designer. Ansonia Clock Co., manufacturer (1879–1930), Brooklyn, New York.  Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 85.108.18.  Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Charles O. Terwilliger, Jr., “Eugene L. Fitch and the Plato Clock,” Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., October 1964, pp. 447-460

Tran Duy Ly, Ansonia Clocks and Watches, Arlington Books, 1998, p. 564


Handpainted Hearts

A83_015_1Tweb_version Pictured here is the handpainted family record, or fraktur, of the Zuller family, probably from Minden, New York. In the central heart image, we can see that Abraham Zuller married Mary Moyer (1787?-1850) on April 11, 1808. 

Above this heart is a circle containing many Masonic symbols laid out in a familiar pattern.  Among these symbols are the letter "G", which is interpreted within Freemasonry as a reference to the Grand/Great Architect of the Universe [i.e. God] or Geometry.  The arch without a key stone is not only a Masonic symbol, it is specifically a symbol of Royal Arch Masons As depicted here, the dislodged key stone allows the light from the all-seeing eye to shine through.  Other Masonic symbols depicted here within the circle are a coffin, a trowel, and mosaic flooring.  With the inclusion of of Masonic symbols on this fraktur, leads us to speculate that it is likely that Abraham Zuller had Masonic ties.

Surrounding these shapes are smaller hearts with the name of each child born to the Zuller family between 1808 and 1827.  The children include:  Daniel, Betsy, Caty, Abraham, Nancy, Mary, and John.  These hearts, like everything on this fraktur, were handpainted by the artist.  Later, as other children were born, hearts were written on in ink to give children's birth dates.  These include  Henry Zuller, born in 1827.  Other small hearts give the death dates of children.  Nancy Zuller died or "departed this earth" and was buried in 1829.

Henry S. Moyer (1785-1860), the artist who created this fraktur in 1825, was of German descent and lived in Minden, New York.  Moyer's style is considered as artistically as following William Murray, or "in the school of" William Murray. As with Murray's frakturs, the Zuller family fraktur is decorated with watercolor and ink on paper.

Image Caption

Zuller Family Fraktur, by Henry S. Moyer, 1825, New York.  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A83/015/1. 

References

Franco, Barbara.  Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts. Lexington, Mass.:  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Inc., 1976, p. 17-44.

Arthur B. and Sybil B. Kern. "Painters of Record:  William Murray and his School", The Clarion, vol. 12, no. 1, Winter 1986/1987, p.28-35.


A clock fit for a king

As we have talked about in previous posts this September and October, gifts from Willis R. and Ruth Michael of York, Pennsylvania have greatly enriched the Museum’s clock collectio.  Much of this collection is  on view in, "For All Time:  Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum."

 

Along with hundreds of historic clocks and watches made for everyday people, Willis Michael collected some extraordinary timepieces—including a clock fit for a king. 

 

Martinot cropped and lighter Engraved inscriptions on this clock’s face tell that the works were crafted by Henri de Martinot (1646–1725) and a Parisian mathematical instrument maker named Pouilly.  An inscription on the back of the clock notes that Martinot worked at the Louvre—no surprise, since Martinot came from a distinguished and well-connected family of clockmakers.  In fact, Henri succeeded his father as one of the king’s official clockmakers.  When King Louis XIV died, he owned ten or more Martinot clocks. 

 

There is no evidence to suggest that this clock was part of the royal collection.  However, early clock historian F. J. Britten wrote that elements of the clock’s ornamentation point toward a royal patron for the piece, possibly Louis XIV of France.  Click on the picture here for an expanded version of the image and look closely.  You can see the crown-topped double letter L’s at the base of the columns on the face and a fleur-de-lis motif just above the upper corners of the Boulle work case.  These feature caused Britten to suggest that “the clock was made for Louis XIV, possibly for presentation to some distinguished person.”

 

Ornamentation aside, this clock has an intriguing mechanism.  The clock not only tracked and displayed hours and minutes but it also called out feast days, eclipses, phases of the moon, months of the year and other information.

 

Willis Michael in front of the Martinot clock Willis Michael purchased this clock in New York at a sale of material from the Henry P. Strause collection in 1948. This black and white photograph shows Willis Michael discussing the Martinot clock with fellow members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors at a party at his home in 1949. This picture was likely taken at a dinner for over seventy clock aficionados and their guests the Michaels hosted during Willis Michael’s tenure as national president of the NAWCC.

 

“For All Time” closes on February 21, so you have just a few weeks to enjoy this and the many other exciting clocks showcased in the exhibition.

 

Photographs:

Clock, works, 1690-1710, case 1665-1680. Henri de Martinot (1646–1725). Paris, France. Gift of Mrs. Willis R. Michael, 85.108.7a-e. Photograph by David Bohl 

 

Willis Michael at his home in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, 1949. National Heritage Museum.

 

References:

I am grateful to Jonathan Snellenburg for his interesting description of this clock at the 2006 symposium organized by the New England Chapter of the NAWCC held at the National Heritage Museum.  This event is described in "National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts Symposium Sponsred by Clock & Watch Collectors Honors Willis Michael,"  Jeanne Schinto, Maine Antique Digest, November 2006.

 

Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers, F. J. Britten (E. & F. Spon, Limited:  London), 1922, pp. 413, 418-422.

 

Huygens’ Legacy:  The Golden Age of the Pendulum Clocks,  Hans van den Ende, (Fromanteel Ldt.:  Castle Town, Isle of Man), 2004.


From Boston to Washington, D.C.: Prince Hall Freemasonry

Init Eye PH The National Heritage Museum’s exhibition, "The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry, and the Architecture of Washington, D.C.," includes the painting seen here, The Good of Masonry Entirely at Heart.  The painting depicts the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, which oversees African American lodges in the district.  Located at 1000 U Street, N.W., the building was designed by Albert Cassell (1895-1969), noted African American architect, in 1922.  But Prince Hall Freemasonry actually got its start in Boston.

A leading citizen in Boston’s African American community, Prince Hall (1738-1807) was an active Methodist who campaigned for schools for black children and created a benevolent society.  Drawn to Freemasonry’s values and opportunities, the former slave tried to join Boston’s lodges in the early 1770s, but was denied membership.

Hall and fourteen other African Americans who had been rejected by the established Boston lodges turned to a Masonic lodge attached to a British regiment stationed in the city.  Initiated in 1775, Hall and his Brothers met as members of the British lodge until the Revolutionary War ended.  In 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new lodge on American soil.  The governing body granted his request, creating African Lodge No. 459.  When Prince Hall died in 1807, African American Masons chose to give their fraternity his name to distinguish it from the white lodges that excluded blacks.

Prince Hall Freemasonry has been practiced in Washington, D.C., since Social Lodge No. 1 was chartered in 1825.  Social Lodge No. 1 joined with two other lodges in 1848 to form the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.  94_052S1 PH Cornerstone

"The Initiated Eye" exhibition presents 21 oil paintings by Peter Waddell based on the architecture of Washington, D.C., and the role that our founding fathers and prominent citizens – many of whom were Freemasons – played in establishing the layout and design of the city.  The exhibition is supplemented with approximately forty objects from the National Heritage Museum’s collection.  In the show, the painting of the D.C. Prince Hall Grand Lodge building is juxtaposed with the photograph seen here.  Taken by noted photographer James Van Der Zee (1886-1983) in 1930, it shows a cornerstone laying for a Masonic temple in New York City.

"The Initiated Eye" will be on view through January 9, 2011.  The paintings in the exhibition are the work of Peter Waddell, and were commissioned by, and are the property of, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C., with all rights reserved.  This exhibition is supported by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.

Left: The Good of Masonry Entirely at Heart, 2005, Peter Waddell (b. 1955), Washington, D.C.  Courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C.  Right: Cornerstone Laying of Masonic Temple, 1930, James Van Der Zee (1886-1983), New York, New York, National Heritage Museum, 94.052. 


American Anti-Masonry in 1880: Edmond Ronayne and the National Christian Association

A2002_38_1_webIf you know about the history of anti-Masonry in America, it's likely that you know about the "Morgan Affair" and the anti-Masonic movement that followed it, lasting from 1826 until the mid-1830s. But there was another anti-Masonic movement that took place in the 1870s and 1880s, spear-headed by a group called the National Christian Association.

Pictured on this 1880 broadside is Edmond Ronayne, a former Freemason who served as both Secretary and Master of Keystone Lodge No. 639 in Chicago. Ronayne traveled to cities across the country, performing what he said was Masonic ritual for large crowds. His intent was to "expose" and deride Freemasonry. The National Christian Association (NCA) sponsored Ronayne’s lectures. Formed in 1868, this organization stated that it sought “to expose, withstand and remove Secret Societies, Freemasonry in particular, and other Anti-Christian movements in order to save the Churches of Christ from being depraved….” The NCA claimed that Freemasonry is a religion, a conclusion they drew partially from the altar, holy book, and recitation of prayers at Masonic meetings.  Although Freemasonry requires that its members believe in a Supreme Being, there is no further religious test. The NCA interpreted this requirement as anti-Christian.
 
The roots of the National Christian Association’s anti-Masonic views trace back to the Morgan Affair, fifty years earlier. One of its founding members, Jonathan Blanchard, was involved in anti-Masonry as a young man in the 1830s in Vermont. (Blanchard was the first president of Wheaton College, in Illinois, whose Archives & Special Collections holds an extensive collection of National Christian Association records.) The Morgan Affair’s importance to the organization persisted into the 1880s. In 1882, the NCA erected a 38-foot-tall monument to William Morgan in Morgan's hometown of Batavia, New York, where it still stands today.

The broadside above advertises the 12th annual meeting of the National Christian Association, held on March 24 and 25, 1880, in Boston. A March 25, 1880, Boston Globe article described the lecture advertised in this broadside, stating that Edmond Ronayne did not meet a sympathetic audience. The crowd of about 500 people – half of whom were local Masons – reportedly interrupted Ronayne several times by hooting and hollering. The Globe reporter - who was possibly a Mason - commented that Ronayne’s performance was “ridiculous” owing to his “ignorance” of Masonic ritual. Echoing other reports that his Boston audiences were less than welcoming, Ronayne wrote in his memoir that, at the March 1880 National Christian Association meeting in Boston, “the crowds in the galleries made [the] most disturbance, throwing handfuls of peas and exploding torpedoes with a loud report upon the platform.”

The broadside seen above is currently on view in Freemasonry Unmasked!: Anti-Masonic Collections in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives at the National Heritage Museum.

Opposed to Secret Societies!, 1880. Boston, Massachusetts. Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, A2002/38/1