Over the summer in 2010, we were alerted to the availability of this Masonic cupboard, which reportedly came from the “old Masonic Hall” in Madison, Indiana, but had most recently been part of a private collection in Ohio. After some negotiations, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchased the cupboard for its collection and had it transported to Lexington, Massachusetts.
We are always on the lookout for Masonic furniture, especially if it is accompanied by a story or documentation of its previous use. We were very excited to add the cupboard to our collection – we do not have another piece like it, nor do we have many pieces of Masonic furniture from the Midwestern United States. The symbols on the doors suggest that the local Order of the Eastern Star group organized their papers in one section, while the town’s Masonic lodge used the other two. Pencil notations remain inside over some of the dividers to remind previous users about which types of papers went where. A new Masonic building was constructed in Madison, Indiana, in 1871 and the cupboard may have been made or purchased around that time.
The cupboard has recently been placed on view in the Museum’s lobby area as part of a new exhibition of recent acquisitions for the collection (see the photograph at right). The Museum actively works to improve and refine its collection of over 17,000 objects through gifts and purchases. The new display highlights some of our recent acquisitions in order to recognize our donors and to demonstrate the kinds of things that we collect. We plan to rotate these objects once or twice a year. We hope you will plan a visit to the Museum soon – and then leave a comment here about your favorite recent acquisition!
Cupboard, 1870-1900, probably Indiana, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Museum purchase through the generosity of Helen G. Deffenbaugh in memory of George S. Deffenbaugh, 2010.039a-r.
“Masonic Chit-Chat,” The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine 30 (July 1871), 288.
Dwight L. Smith, Goodly Heritage: One Hundred Fifty Years of Craft Freemasonry in Indiana (Indianapolis, 1968).