Inside An Abandoned Masonic Hall In Tappan, NY

Last week, I was sent up to scout around Tappan, NY, a beautiful hamlet just over the New Jersey border. Each day, I found myself driving back and forth along a road called Western Highway…

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…and in the process, passing a gorgeous brick building that appeared to be abandoned.

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Was it a school, or former college? Perhaps the old town hall? On the seventh or eighth drive by, I finally pulled over to find out.

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Though the building was still in excellent condition, walking the deserted grounds almost felt like something out of Lovecraft.

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In search of clues, I came around the side of the building…

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…where ivy was slowly increasing its stranglehold on the facade:

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A rusted old fence at the top of a crumbling staircase:

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The rear of the building revealed a number of additions…

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…and a great view of the building’s impressive cupola…

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But what was it??

As it turns out, a pretty big clue was staring down at me:

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After making some phone calls, I learned that this was once the German Masonic Home of Tappan, a place for “worthy decayed Masons, their widows, and orphans” – in other words, a home for members who could no longer care for themselves. Below, a photograph taken February 8, 1920:

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Incredibly, the building has barely changed over the years. The German Masonic group continues to this day in Tappan, and a member graciously arranged for me to take a tour.

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The land for the site, 20 acres in all, was purchased by the German Masons in 1872 for $14,500; construction on the Hall began in 1906 and finished in 1909. From then until 1983, the building was a residence hall for Masons and their kin in an attempt to “shield the individual against the blasts of an adverse fate,” according to a Masonic historian.

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Though I was expecting some level of dilapidation, I had no idea how bad the decay would be.

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Abandoned since 1996, water damage had taken its toll, and I began to wonder if anything of note had managed to survive.

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Then we took a turn through a glass-paned door…

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…and found this on the other side:

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This is the Home’s former chapel, and I found the mix of elegant design with decay to create an almost haunting beauty.

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The chapel actually has an interesting connection to film history. A later addition to the building, the chapel was donated by member Anton T. Kliegl, inventor of the Klieg light, which quickly became the standard of screen and stage.

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The real treasure here are the stained glass windows, which are miraculously in perfect condition:

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They’ve since been boarded up for safety, and will hopefully be removed soon for preservation…

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…but seriously: wow.

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I don’t know my Masonic history, but I imagine these scenes were chosen for a reason – perhaps someone out there could illuminate?

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At the front wall, two pictures are embedded in the stained glass.

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The man is identified as Brother A. T. Kliegl…

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The woman is his wife, Schw. L. Kliegl (thanks to readers for clarifying!). Both share the date of April 8, 1928 – anyone have any idea why?

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Two windows in the chapel’s corner:

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A stained glass skylight used to adorn the chapel’s dome but has since been removed for safe keeping:

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Three chairs on the altar:

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I noticed the pinnacle of each chair is different. According to reader Mark, “The chairs are for the 3 main positions in the lodge. The center chair is for the Worshipful Master, to the right is the Chaplin, and to the left is the education officer.”

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From the debris covered pews…

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…to the moss-strewn floors, I have to admit, that Lovecraftian feeling was only increasing.

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As we left the chapel, I noticed another window…

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…which looked especially impressive in the dark.

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From there, we made our way to the main staircase…

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…adorned with a Masonic mosaic set into the wall:

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Just around the corner were the remnants of a formal room…

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…the Masonic symbol still above the fireplace:

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In 1983, the Home closed and residents were moved to another facility provided by the German Masons in New Rochelle. The building was leased as a dorm to Dominican College, a local liberal arts college. Below, the former dining hall/ballroom. Note the arched doors on the right:

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Just off the dining hall is the old cafeteria/kitchen, in a terrible state of disrepair:

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At some point, a medical wing was added to the rear of the first floor.

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This was probably an examination room:

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The original sink:

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Next door, the old nurse’s station…

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Long since faded, the slight pink color makes me think this was once a vibrant pastel hue:

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A photograph above the sink – quick, who can identify the location?

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A private sick room, complete with bed:

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An old General Electric water fountain:

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From there, we headed upstairs to the second floor…

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…er, probably wisely deciding to forego the elevator:

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This was the first of three residential floors for the Masonic Home, where members were able to live free of charge.

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Here, the decay was at its worst…

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…and, coupled with the utter silence of the building, that horror movie feel was reaching a peak.

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In fact…OK, I’ll come clean – I had one really embarrassing scare during the tour. As we were looking in this bedroom, SOMETHING SUDDENLY JUMPED OUT AT US…

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Pigeons. Dammit, I nearly had a heart attack!

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Interestingly enough, there is a tragic story from the building’s past that could easily fuel a ghost legend or two. As I was doing research, I came across this article from from the September 5, 1933, edition of the NY Times:

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According to the article, John Ellich, 74, and Marie Kiefer, 64, both residents of the Masonic Home, had secretly fallen in love despite strict rules against such intimacy. A year later, they snuck off to New York City to elope.

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Unfortunately, their secret was discovered, and they were informed by the board of directors that they were to be separated, with one of them being moved to the Masonic Home of Utica.

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On September 3rd, 1933, at 8 AM, the superintendent found Ellich’s room locked and, upon opening it with a passkey, empty. Kiefer’s door was also found to be locked, with paper stuffed in the keyhole.

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Inside, Ellich and Kiefer were found dead, lying side by side. Ellich still held an automatic pistol, and suicide notes were found on the dresser. According to the Times, “It is believed they took advantage of the noise of last night’s electrical storm when the pistol was fired, because none of the other guests heard the shots.”

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I’d love to know if the story was known to the Dominican College students who dormed here…

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…though I’m sure their super cool spaceship mattresses made them feel safe as they slept at night:

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In retrospect, the service provided by the German Masonic Hall seems almost unbelievable in today’s age – a full care retirement residence for those simply in need. In fact, a final resting place was also provided for members at the local cemetery…

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…where a group plot was instituted:

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Burials span over 50 years, the most recent in 1987:

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Sadly, it doesn’t look like much can be done to save the German Masonic Home. While the exterior masonry is in great shape, the roof is falling in, and the interior would need to be completely gutted.

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For a time, the Masons had hoped to tear the building down and build smaller homes on the land for seniors in an attempt to fulfill their original mission, but were prohibited by zoning laws.

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And so it sits on its hill, decaying a little further each day.

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When you literally can’t build ‘em like this anymore, it’s sad when you can’t find a purpose for the ones that remain.

On a positive note, much of the Home’s land has become the German Masonic Park, and is used frequently by the town for events and sports.

-SCOUT

PS – If it’s not clear from my pictures, the building is INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS and boarded up for a reason!! There is also no trespassing on the grounds. Tappan is very small, and the police take notice.

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125 comments

  1. Her text is “Schw. L. Kliegl” — “Schw.” meaning “Schwester,” or “Sister.”
    “Gewidmet von” means “Dedicated by”
    The character you identified as a “U” is identical to the “A” in “April,” so that might be “A.” there.

  2. You have no idea how much I envy you for stuff like this! It’s absolutely amazing what can hide behind the walls of an abandoned building. I keep wishing to be able to peek behind the facade of one or the other. I’d die for a tour through the abandoned parts of Ellis Island – have you every tried to get permission to go “back stage” there?

  3. I’m pretty sure the name on the window is “A. T. Kliegl” (not U. L. Kliegl)…so I guess it was dedicated to Anton Tiberius Kliegl (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Kliegl). And the other window probably to his wife Leopoldine (Schw. L. Kliegl)?

  4. Such a tragedy to see this beautiful building left to decay! Is it me or the stained glass window look like Tiffany’s stained glass?

  5. I’m fairly sure (I only have the British Masonic insignia to hand) that the emblems on the three chairs represent (left to right) Senior Grand Warden – the level, Assistant Grand Master – the compasses and square, and the Junior Grand Warden – the plumb rule.

    • No. The titles you mention do not occur. The Worshipful Master, Chaplain of the lodge and the District Deputy Grand Master occupy those chairs. (I’m a Mason).

  6. I cant believe the electric was still on. Your stained glass pics in the decaying temple are beautiful. Why am I not suprised that the town rather have a decaying building then build a new place if the town didnt have to pay for it. Greta job as usual.

    • Running electric in that building with what must be massive water leaks is a major safety hazard. I’m very surprised that the local building authorities allow it.

  7. The chairs are for the 3 main positions in the lodge. The center chair is for the Worshipful Master, to the right is the Chaplin, and to the left is the education officer.

    The stained glass windows are showing part of a story that you are taught during the initiation process. They sometimes put them up in lodges to remind people of the values that Masons are to uphold.

    • Sorry …you are incorrect,,,center is for Worshipful master…right is for Junior Warden and left is for Senior Warden…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_Lodge_Officers

      • Howard, you are wrong. Mark was correct in his explanation. The Senor Warden sits across from the WM on the west wall of the lodge and the Junior Warden sits in the south wall. Wikipedia is not a reputable source.

        • Ummm, sorry, Howard is correct. As a Past Master or former Worshipful Master I can with authority state that these chairs are most certainly for the Master and Wardens. They display the Square, Level, and Plumb, or the proper Jewels for the WM, Senior and Junior Wardens. The so-called “Chapel” was most certainly the Lodge room for the home. If you look at the other photos, there are no chairs in the South or West of this room, leading to the obvious conclusion that these chairs are for the officers whose jewels are carved on them.

          There are many styles and observances in Masonry, and the officers sit in different locations depending on which observance the lodge is working under. In quite a few organizations (especially the Continental European rites), the three principle officers sit together in the (Masonic) East. Just because the positions in the East, West and South are now the usual for American Freemasonry does not make them universal. I personally have been in several Lodges that use this arrangement of the officers chairs.

          • Undoubtedly the chairs belong to the WM, SW & JW as Eddy states however there is possibly another explanation too. Many Craft Lodges also double up as Royal Arch Temples where the SW & JW chairs are moved from their normal positions in the West and East and put either side of the WM’s chair to serve as chairs for the three principals of the Chapter.

      • The Senior Warden sits in the West, opposite the Worshipful Master. The Junior Warden sits in the South. The three chairs are occupied by: Worshipful Master, Chaplain, and any visiting dignitary, usually the District Deputy Grand Master. Come and visit my Lodge sometime. :)

        • Hi Folks –

          I am in the camp of Howard and Eddy.
          If you look carefully at the head of each chair, they show the symbol corresponding to each of the Pillars.

          Dan – you are correct that the SW is in the West and the JW is in the South, but this is a chapel and not a lodge room so the stations are not set up properly.

          If anything, perhaps someone created those chairs, and donated them to the Masonic Home and the Home found the best place for them…. in the chapel.

          But if they were put into a lodge room, they would be moved to their proper positions.

  8. Did you mean to write “But what was it?” where you wrote “But was it?” ?

  9. What an awesome find! It is so sad that these old places cannot be used again!
    It has the potential to be a great setting for a movie or show.

  10. The ‘photo above the sink’ appears to be of Grant Park in Chicago looking to the northwest. The line of buildings seem to be those along Michigan Avenue. It’s probably taken from Shedd Aquarium. My guess is the photo was taken late 50s, early 60s. http://g.co/maps/4hr44

  11. Delighted that you found your way to this site, Scout. I live in Rockland, a few minutes from Tappan, and had thought of recommending that you check this place out after your excellent posts on the nearby Rockland Psychiatric Center. Of course, I’ve never been able to get a tour of the interior(although had heard that there was serious water damage), so thanks for giving us all that look! For now at least, the property is unlikely to be developed, as you mentioned, since the town would not allow housing at a density sufficient to make the development worthwhile for the Masons. While you’re in Rockland, you should try to check out Letchworth Village (another former state mental hospital) in North Rockland near the Palisades Parkway. I could imagine that the historic downtown of Haverstraw, with its pre-war feel to it, could also work in a variety of contexts for movies.

  12. I get it… Vegas!

  13. RE the photo above the sink…Grant Park in Chicago is correct,I believe. Here’s a link to a matching view of Chicago in the 50′s

    http://chuckmanchicagonostalgia.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/postcard-chicago-downtown-lakefront-from-shedd-aquarium-wendella-boat-docked-1950s/

  14. The first stained glass says “benefactor to humanity” – I’m assuming the date is when he donated the funds for the chapel. This may have been from his estate as he died the year before. You’d have to check local papers on or about that date. The second window says “dedicated from Lincoln” – followed by the parallelogram, the number 748, and then “F and AM”. No idea what this means, or what “Lincoln” refers to since they were born in Germany and lived and died in NY.

    • F and AM is Free and Accepted Mason’s

    • The parallelogram was/is a common abbreviation for the word “Lodge”, hence “Dedicated from Lincoln Lodge 748 F&AM”.

      • I don’t know german… could this mean that the window honoring Bro. Kliegl was “dedicated by” Lincoln Lodge 748 F&AM? Or is it an indication that Bro. Kliegl was “dedicated TO” Lincoln Lodge 748…”? Either way, Kliegl seems like a heck of a guy.

  15. I was one of the Dominican College students who dormed here. I was not aware of the story you told here. We always thought that the place was alittle haunted. It was a beuatiful place back in the 80′s. It is very sad to see these pictures of how horrible it looks now. I believe you even have a picture of the room I stayed in. We used to have mass in the chapel on Sunday evenings. It was beautiful!! Very, very sad!

  16. The “F and AM” stands for Free and Accepted Masons.

    The form of a Masonic lodge is a parallelogram, or oblong square; its greatest length being from east to west, its breadth from north to south.

    The window in which the man is laying down appears to be a Germanized depiction of Hiram Abiff “The Widow’s Son.”

    • Good stuff, thanks. I was aware of the Hiram Abiff story and assumed the pictures probably related to the story in some way, but I didn’t recognize that particular scene.

  17. Almost forgot: Lincoln No. 748 was a German speaking Lodge in New York City

  18. Astounding post once again Scout – sincere thanks for your tremendous efforts in sharing these amazing finds and the history of same. The magnitude of decay inside this one, was unbelievable. What a story in whole. Also, your site map is incredible. Thanks Scout.

  19. I am guessing the date is the day they were dedicated? A.T.Kiegl died in 1927, so it would make sense to dedicate it post mortem.

  20. Scout, You lead a charmed life. How do you fall into these things? Interesting post as always.

  21. Lived there as a student at Dominican. I have so many great memories of the place. It is so sad to see it so decayed.

  22. My daughter forwarded this to me, as I’ve always wanted to go in there! Lucky you! (I would have been “startled” over the pigeons too!)

  23. I was a Dominican College resident who lived in this once beautiful building. It makes me want to cry to see it in it’s present state.
    The building was definitely a little haunted when I lived there. Toilets flushing by themselves and windows slamming shut. I remember the masses in the chapel and eating in the dining hall. Wonderful memories.

  24. Came across your article on Facebook from a friend that shared it. I grew up in Tappan down the road from the Masonic home property and knew nothing about it except that local carnivals/fairs were held there. Thanks for posting this.

  25. When I read that the Masons stopped using the building in 1983 I was a bit surprised, as the amount of deterioration is a lot more than would be expected in 29 years’ abandonment. But then to read that the college used it until 1996 really took me aback. That’s an extreme level of deterioration for a building used as recently as 16 years ago.

  26. Thank you for an amazing article! What a shame such a beautiful building is in such disrepair! Great pics!

  27. As a kid, during an Octoberfest, I wandered into the building with friends. We found the ladder to the cupola, which was located in a hallway closet. We climbed it to the the cupola crawling out and looking ot over the town. In those days, sheep were raised on the grounds and kept in the Brittany styled barn. If you look to the southerly side of the property, it is still intact.

  28. I live one block from there.
    And everything Scout described is true
    I moved here in ’93 and the Dominican School was already gone from there.
    It’s been unused and decaying but lovely on a large large plot of ground.

  29. I would love to know how to acquire those chairs for our Lodge which was founded in 1854.

  30. I was working in the 60 in this Horror Haus as allrounder. I wittnest many crimes from the German Nurse who killed this old helples people. I still have night dreams. I wrote a book about it”Im Nebel der Vergangenheit”
    Im swiss and live in Switzerland.

  31. I downloaded/enlarged the pic of the rear of the chapel which seems to show an organ-like console on the 2nd floor level, but can’t tell for sure. Would like to think the instrument was removed/saved some time ago, but maybe not (how sad). Any info on the organ?

  32. I grew up down the street from what we referred to as the “Masonic Home”. Behind the building they kept sheep that we would go down and feed all the time. The sheep would eat the grass so they wouldn’t have to mow. I recall several times going with a group from our church into the building as a child, we sing to the elderly at christmas time. Every October they would have an event called the Stubenfest where bus loads of people and cars from everywhere would come to celebrate their German heritage.

  33. I lived at the dorm for Dominican College for two years from 1991-1993.
    It was worn down then but still beautiful and a beautiful
    location. Very sad to see how dilapitated it us now but
    truly amazing to see some things still in tact. Nice article and
    Pictures.

  34. I am an Alumni of Dominican College. I lived there the year before it closed. Although the building looks warned down when we lived there it was very homey and everyone was like family. Yes there are many ghost stories and experiences. Trust me Masonic Hall was known for it.

    Aside from the ghost stories the pictures reminded me of the good times. Viewing the church, the chairs, dinning area brought back great memories. When I saw the beds I was like I can not believe I slept on that! However, living there was GREAT!

    If you have any questions ask away.

  35. I lived there as well. Definitely had some paranormal experiences, but it was college as we knew it.
    Always felt like the place had such history. Would love to hear more. Wow, such great memories!!! “Flushing!!!!” lol ladies!!!

  36. Great article. I actually lived in that building from 1995-96 as a freshman attending Dominican College. My room was in the library located on the second floor.There were many strange things that occurred there from random apparitions to music coming from the attic which has been blocked off for years. There is also a morgue located in the building as well as a tunnel that connects the building to the church about a mile away. Many great memories.

  37. The stained glass was recently removed and renovated. Most of them have been placed into the Whitestone Masonic Temple where as of yesterday they are now part of the main lodge room. The restoration of the glass turned out beautiful and it is impressive to see them in all their glory once again.

  38. My father is the care taker of this building and grounds, and my mother was a nurse in the infirmary when it was still a nursing home,,, i grew up on these grounds for 24 years, this building was once my playground as a child i have run through all those halls all the rooms, the kitchen, chapel, walked the main stairs plenty of times, basement & attic, even the bell tower..its very sad that the building has been let go like this.. It once was a beautiful building with many many stories & memories for everyone who lived and worked there. I dont believe the building is haunted, we have had our encounters but we just think of it as the old folks that lived there in the nursing home…I still visit the building but the inside is really to dangerous to be in, im surprised you were allowed or chanced it.

    -the room you noted as the dining hall/ballroom is not that room, the picture you have is the lobby when you walk in the side door you entered.
    -@Adrian the room you said you stayed in, the ceiling is caved in now, and the floor caved in to the kitchen below.. There is no morgue in the building or a tunnel leading to church in town either.

    Great Pictures!

    • Christine,

      Do you know what happened to the three chairs? Our lodge is looking for something exactly like that and would give them a good home. Are they available for sale?

      • Charlie Schueler

        Matt, I’m a Past Master and Grand Representative of Grand Lodge. If your Lodge is looking for Chairs for your Lodge/Temple, contact Grand Lodge, New York. We have many in storage due to closing of Lodge Buildings from a few years ago. They also have many, many alters.
        Hope this helps.

        • Bro. Charlie, thanks for your reply. We are a Texas lodge and have since found some furniture from one of our area closed lodges but thanks for the tip as I’m sure there are many out there that can use the furniture. I also understand from speaking to the WM of the home lodge of the brother who owns the building that the stained glass has been removed for safekeeping due to the interest in the building. I hope that NY Masons can come to the aid of the building, there are plenty of TX Masons wanting to help if ya’ll put the word out.

  39. Fantastic building and yes, on the sad side of thing, seeing it fall apart as such. I’d be interested in knowing if the National Masonic groups would be interested in knowing more about it.

    TM

  40. I am a Mason, and I wonder why this building hasn’t been brought to othe masons attention? I saw it on the national geographic TV show Abandoned, and the caretaker said that they wanted to renovate it. I know I would love to donate to save the building, and I know for a fact that other masons would too. Plus we could donate our labor as well. I’d be glad to travel up there to work on it. It’s beautiful, and I want to save it.

    • Its been 6 months since you posted this…i live here in Tappan and i wondered if you contacted the local Masons here they couldnt direct you to someone that could answer your question for sure. This building is magnificent and should be saved. Thank you for your generosity.

  41. This masonic lodge was featured on “abondend” last night 9/26/12 on the National Geographic channel last night. The windows in the ceremony room were not there and the care taker had to get permission from the masonic board before he could sell the tree chairs in the ceremony room. It was a big waste of time. The place was in such bad shape there was really nothing to salvage.

  42. Thank you for the photographs. I hadn’t know of this facitlity or it’s condition. I was actually looking at info on George Washington site in Tappan and found this site. Thank you for the images. There is a lot of emotion in them. I am also a Mason, and a carpenter. It’s sad to see a site in such a state but maybe with enough awareness in the community of Masons something can begin… I will pass this on to all my brothers.

  43. Can anyone who spent some time inside this historic building confirm that this (see the link) was the skylight in the chapel? I’m trying to get some history on this stained glass dome. If anyone happens to know when, where, and by whom this beautiful piece of art was made, I would love to know.

    Thank you!

  44. Scout..

    The 3 principle officers of a Lodge are (in order) 1). The Worshipful Master 2). -The Senior Warden 3). The Junior Warden. If this differs in other Lodges, I’ve yet to see such.

    Best regards,

    Bro. Dustin Wade
    Mississauga Lodge #524 GRC.

    • Thank you, Brother Dustin. As a current SW.’. in my Lodge, I can confirm that and does not differ. Although one of the minor officers is a Chaplain, ‘Education’ is a committee in our Lodge (is comprised of more than 1 of our current officers, as well as Past WMs) – not an officer.

      Best regards and Frats to My Brethren keeping all in check! ;-)

      Br. Garret Wolfe, SW.’.
      Ashlar Lodge # 98 F.& A.M.
      Saint Augustine, FL

  45. I am a Master Mason. The top three officers of a Lodge of Master Masons are the Worshipful Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden. These are officers that are elected by the members of the lodge along with the Treasurer and Secretary. The other officers are appointed by the Worshipful Master, including the Chaplain and Education Officer.

    I hope that this helps to clarify things for you.

  46. Marianne Tavani Peterson

    I was raised at 66 Western Highway and moved away in the early 1970′s – I remember the Home well – and the picnics across the street – Oktoberfests – also, sheep used to graze on the hill in the back!

    How sad to see it in this condition – where is the Tappan Historical Society to try and preserve something of this beautiful building?

  47. I know about the old Dumont German Masonic Home. I did not realize the building was still there. My wife’s Grandmother lived in the New Rochelle German Masonic Home. It still had a Masonic Lodge and Chapel. This was as of 2000. The 10th Manhattan Masonic District maintained the Home in Tappan. You should contact the 10th Manhattan Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York if you have more questions.

    Rob Gelles – ps I am a member of the Freemasons of the State of New York

  48. I’m SO glad I found this article. I’m only 16, but for a while now I’ve become completely enthralled with this building. I’ve seen it up close (ignoring the no trespassing signs obviously)many times, including walking up to the top of the fire escape, and have only DREAMED of being able to walk inside of it. I live 5 minutes away from the home and walk by it as often as I can. See, I want to be an architect when I grow up, but that’s not all. I’ve made it a personal goal to one day possibly have the money to help restore this place or at least one day be able to help restore it in someway. To think that it’s in such bad shape from being abandoned for 16 years, amazes me. I’ve tried finding information on it for so long, but could only find out that it MAYBE used to be a masonic home. This opened my eyes up. If anyone knows how I can possibly take a tour of this place as well, that would be amazing. It seriously has become a lifetime goal of mine to even just be able to walk through this building in the hopes that one day I could see it turn into as beautiful as I assume it used to be. I sincerely love this building. Hopefully you can see this album. These are the pictures I’ve taken close up to the building.
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.320222641348323.64675.100000817681007&type=1&l=9fc67f9ea5

    • Hey Tatiana –

      Hope you achieve your goals! You might be able to arrange an appointment by getting in touch with that German society that has the grounds across the street – they own it (unfortunately, I don’t have the phone number anymore). JUST DO NOT TRY TO SNEAK IN!!!! The first floor is easily one of the more dangerous abandoned locations I’ve ever been in – there are places where you could step and fall through the floor into the basement.

      • Thanks! I found a number attached to its location on google maps which I was easily confused about since it’s obviously not a place open for business, but I’m guessing that’s a number I could call to get info and such!

  49. This was much more than a Lodge… it was a full service Masonic Home for German speaking Freemasons. Yes, it had a Lodgeroom and a chapel, but retired/indigent Freemasons lived out the remainder of their lives there! Thats where the phrase “to help worthy and well-qualified Master Masons, their widows and orphans!” come from in the Mainstream obligations! At one time German speaking Masonic Lodges from all over the state contributed to its upkeep! The main Masonic Home is in Elizabethtown, NY and is even more grandiose! It’s unbelieveable how much money was raised and spent to keep these institutions going! I know that the Masonic Home in St. Petersburg, Fla. currently has a 6 million dollar operating budget! Sadly most of these Masonic Homes are being closed because of the membership decline in Mainstream Masonry as well as the States and Fed. Govt. picking up most of the cost for taking care of the elderly and orphans! The truth of the matter is that Masonic Homes were the model that led the way to providing support to orphans and the elderly!

  50. i live in tappan and have always wondered about that building. I pass it daily. I’d love to take a tour of it. you have entrigued me to learn more about it.

  51. What extraordinary photos. This is close to my heart as my husband and I actually live in a former Masonic Temple. It’s sad to see such a beautiful building go to waste. We immediately fell in love with our place and saw the potential. With a little vision and less money than any other house in our town would have cost, we now have a brand new renovated 5,300 sq ft brick home that is the most sturdy and well built structure you will ever be in. The character, beauty, history are priceless. I wish more people would see the beauty and value in these older places. It’s so true when you hear, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  52. So I’ve recently started working as a scout myself in NYC and did 3 drive-bys of that place today myself. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and in the state of disrepair I noticed, I decided to not let my curiosity get the better of me, but I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog now. What a cool visit that must have been. Thanks for putting this up!

  53. I am a Master Mason from Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. This is a great article. Thanks for posting it. What an incredible piece of history. It is such a shame that it has deteriorated so badly. I am not sure if you are familiar with the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. It was in similar condition when it was salvaged and restored. It is now a wonderful showcase for the City of Spokane. I hope something can be done to save this building.

  54. I am also a Master Mason for many years. It is very sad to see the work that originally went into building this incredible building. Back when this was built they used superior materials of that time frame. Even the frame of the “original sink”
    has one of the best quality brass chrome plated faucets ever manufactured. “CRANE DIAL-EASE”, as I come from this background most of my life and have serviced many of these faucets. It would be nice to know how much it would cost to upgrade it to a Seniors home plus have a Lodge operate out of the building to benifit to-days society?

  55. I greet you well,

    As a Master Mason, on seeing such an important building I ask the following;
    1. Is the main brick structure in good condition?
    2. Is it considered feasible to restore the property?
    3. Are there any unemployed and needy brothers and sisters in the area prepared to do the work for the pleasure and receive their just dues from the project managers
    4. What would be the ‘cost price’ of the necessary materials?
    5. Repeat question 2.

    Every effort should be made to return such a building to a useful purpose for the good of Masonry.

    In my humble opinion.

  56. Bro. Daniel Crespo 32o

    You have my attention in so many ways, but to the point is this property available for sale or is there a lodge trying to restore this beautiful piece of artwork. I’m interested in getting involved, I need someone to each out to me.

    Bro Daniel Crespo
    - MWPHGL of PA; Melita #117, Pittsburgh, PA
    - A.A.S.R., PHA -Northern Jurisdiction; Orient of Pennsylvania Valley of Pittsburgh, St Cyprian #3
    - A.E.A.O.N.M.S. Desert of New Jersey. Oasis of Camden, Zamora Temple #73
    crspdnl@yahoo.com

  57. Forrester Carroll Jr

    Well, there was only one error I found in your article. The three (3) chairs located on the Chaplain’s Altar were for the three (3) principle Officers of the Lodge. The Middle chair was for the Worshipful Master (as indicated by the symbol of his jewel crafted at the top of the chair in the form of a “square”); the chair on the left (if standing facing it) was for the Senior Warden (SW) which assist the WM in running the lodge (the symbol of the SW’s jewel, the “level” can be seen carved out above the chair) and the chair on the right was reserved for the Junior Warden (JW), whose jewel, the “plumb” has been carved above the chair. Verify the sumbols above the chair with any search of google on jewels of masonic officers.

    Good piece though

  58. Amazing.
    The chairs are not quite what that guide told you. The one in the middle is the Worshipful Masters chair, the one to the left is the Senior Wardens (second in command) and the other is the Junior Wardens (3rd in command) those symbols on top of the chairs are emblems of their office.
    Usually these chairs would be situated at different points in a duly constituted lodge…

  59. I think that the one scene represented in stained glass is that of a moment when a Craftsman rest at the brow of a hill near a sprig of acacia, a notable event in the legend of Hiram Abiff.
    I hope some one saves all this stuff.

  60. The 3 main officers in a particular lodge are the Worshipful Master represented by the square(center chair), the Senior Warden represented by the level (left chair) and Junior Warden represented by the plumb (right chair). I know this for certian. Im a master mason in a Blue lodge.

  61. Website is a small business, not Masonic or De Molay.
    I will be turning into a 50 year De Molay in 2 years. [ Honolulu #1 ]
    It pains me to see this building like this. I understand.
    I’m glad our (Texas) has a vibrant York Rite home for Masons, wives,
    Eastern Star and their children as needed. Children in other services.

    I would hope that the stain glass windows could be saved and perhaps
    some of the Masonic symbols within. Perhaps a Masonic museum .
    Sad indeed. I’m a MM in AF & AM Blue Lodge, Sir Knight in Commandery, Patron in Eastern Star, and Life Member Order of DeMolay.

  62. Great article. I bet there was a pipe organ in the balcony of the chapel. I wonder what happened to it. I hope it isn’t in the building.

  63. Would love to see ALL your photos but our computer won’t download them all.
    Great site though. Wish you would link pages. Thanks for telling us about this.

  64. this was the german massonic home.shame to let it go this bad.

  65. Great article and find my Brother!!!! I didn’t read all of the comments, but the chairs, if you review them are for the first three officers of the Lodge. WM, SW, & JW. My question is what are they doing with the building, and what are they doing with the chairs? That workmanship is amazing!!!!!

  66. very sad to see such a beautiful masonic building in such disrepair,I would love to see those windows saved and used in some other Masonic hall .The chairs are indeed the worshipful masters,junior and senior wardens the three main officers in Lodge but why they are still there I cannot understand

  67. What a fantastic structure.

  68. A magnificent structure. Indicates what a group with similar and positive beliefs can accomplish collectively for the benefit of others

  69. I am a mason. the couple was probably seperated because as masons it is a violation of your obligation to carry out a relationship with another brother’s widow or orphan. it is sad and tragic but if they want to carry on with their love affair they will be committing a masonic offense and persisting on it is all wrong masonically. them being inside a masonic home they leave the administration no choice but to ask them to leave. its just the way it is.

    • I’ve been a Mason for many years and have never heard of the “obligation” you mention here. I suspect you are not a Mason at all.

      • It’s in the third degree: “… and most strictly respect the chastity of those nearest and dearest to him, in the persons of his wife, his sister and his child.”

  70. As a Real Estate Broker and form home builder, I have a genuine interest in buildings of any sort. However, a pretty as this building is, it is shame that it was not taken care of. Do you think it is salvageable? It appears that it would have made a great bed and breakfast.
    Maybe we can raise the funds and buy and salvage it.
    What do you think?
    Jim Snotherly
    Raleigh, NC

  71. Brother A.T. Kliegl was Anton Kliegl. He and his brother invented the klieg lights used in films

  72. As for the April 8, 1928 date, it’s probably the date of dedication of the chapel, as Anton Tiberius Kliegl died in 1927.

    The German on A.T. Kliegl’s stained glass window translates as “Benefactor of Mankind.” And “Gewidmet von Lincoln” on his wife’s window, translates to “dedicated by Lincoln.”

    So, in all likely, a dedication date.

  73. I lived here from 1993-1996 when it was dorm for the Dominican College of Blauvelt. It is totally creepy and haunted. We had a great time living here nonetheless. :)

  74. I can remember spending many a happy hour there at the the annusl Christmas parties, and one year I was on the home committee.That was in the early 70s. It,s sad to see what has happened,but new laws pertaining to room sizes and hallway widths made it too expensive to renovate, This caused it to be closed,and guests moved to Dumont.

  75. Wonderfull article. I was assigned to Buffalo, NY by the Public Health Service in the 60′s, and toured much of New York State as part of Tuberculosis Program Sanatorium Reviews. As a result, I had the chance to see this building in one of its many uses, ie- The Dominician College. I also always thought of it and identified it as a Masonic Facility, as I am a Worshipful Past Master from both a Baltimore, Maryland Lodge and a Palatine, Illinois LOdge.
    It is so sad to see the building in such repair, and I really can’t understand why the land has not been used for a home for Seniors preserving the windows and paintings. Thye chairs are for the three principal officers as stated and the paintings are part of the information given in the ritual of Masonry.

    l

  76. How did you manage to go there? Did you get a permission or did you go illegally? I am really interessted to at least see it from the outside but since it would be illegal I just want to know how I can do it legally?

  77. I live in Minnesota and have been a Freemason for 17 years. Seeing this gorgeous building rotting away breaks my heart. All the hard work that past generations put into this building to just see it go to waste seems very insulting to me. I would like to add that the second stain glass window, the one with the fellow laying down sleeping does not look very Masonic to me. I would say that since he is sleeping and looking down on the town looks more like the character of Rip Van Winkle. Washington Irving, who wrote the story, is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and had many of his stories set around the Tappan Zee. The dress of the sleeping man would not be something that early stone masons would wear. It looks like the clothes that Henry Hudson would have worn in his day, whose ghost is a character in the story.

  78. Randen Frykberg-Siegel

    I am from and continue to live in Orangetown in Rockland county , as a kid I saw this building everyday and always wondered what the hell this building was ! I grew up down the road from there in Sparkill , NY and as a teenager , me and my motley crew of friends would hang out and scavenge around the old place . I love to this immense and gorgeous building get some recognition . Plus , learning about the place is something I’ve been pursuing for years . The German Masonic Lodge host many local event’s from the annual October-fest to the Italian Festival . I’ve always admired the place . I wish the Masonic camp would restore it to some extent . I passed it today on my way home from grocery shopping and saw a large section of the roof was missing on the left of the cupola in the front of the building . The building is extremely easy to get into ( Be careful ) . If anyone want to give it look , it’s at 120 Western Hwy in Tappan , NY between Cedar Street and Schreiber Street . In town you can also check out the other old buildings in the middle of town , such as the church built in the mid 1600s , the 76 House ( now a restaurant ) where Major Andre was kept before being Hung during the Revolutionary War , or Head over to Nyack … the town of Nyack itself is a beautiful architectural place to visit . From a Rocklander ;

    http://maps.google.ru/maps?newwindow=1&q=german+masonic+home+tappan+ny&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.47380653,d.dmg&biw=1282&bih=684&pdl=300&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=ru&sa=N&tab=wl

  79. Thank you for this marvelous (if vicarious) visit!

    As a Freemason, I am sorry to see a wonderful old Masonic home fall into ruin, but as someone who also appreciates ruins, I find the tagging and graffiti infuriating! It’s as if nothing anymore can be allowed to decay gracefully without some self-indulgent jackass coming along and ruining it by scribbling their tag. If I ever catch anyone tagging a beautiful old building (Masonic or not), they’ll be a few fingers short by the time I’m done with them.

  80. I am very thankful of these photo’s. It has given my family information of our heritage. I was not born during the time my great-grandparents were living there. I am curious if they were buried on the property. My father remembers visiting in the early 60′s with his father. The story told to me, my grandfather brought in a Television for everyone to enjoy and the manager or “director” took the Television for his own use. My grandfathers next visit He was fuming when he found this to be true. He took things in his own hands. (censored).

  81. Masonic Lodges are very cool but what about the North East coast Elks Lodges?

    The Elks and Masons had a lot of cross over between the 2 organization’s back in the day.

    So I’ve been told and there are differences but a whole lot of similarities in meeting traditions and

    initiation regalia , and lodge rooms.

    Love to read any one else’s take on this subject.

  82. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  83. Greg Hatton statement on the Three chairs – yes i agree with the WM, SW and JW, but in a Lodge room the WM is placed in thr East, SW in the west and JW in the south but three chairs together in the east would be the WM in the centre, visiting mason to his right and the IPM or chaplain to his left.
    The “F&AM” mentioned would most likely mean Free and Accepted Mason
    Great article on the history of this complex and many jurisdictions the care of Widows and children and of course the Aged Brethren are one of the tasks/duties that Masons are asked to support.
    Someone may think – why a group of German masons in the USof A. This shows Masonry Universal , where the colour of your skin, the religious faith you follow , the amount you earn and as masons We meet on the Level and part on the square.

  84. Laurence C. Dittmer

    As a brother and Mason of the 9th Manhattan Masonic District, whose home this was, it truly is sad to see the current condition of the old home. Two interesting notes, though. The stained glass windows were removed and re-installed inside our Masonic meeting hall in Whitestone in New York City some time ago. Also this building has a “twin sister” that is still in use today. Many of the German Masons of the 9th Manhattan District also belonged to and still belong to (myself included) German clubs. These clubs came and still under the auspices of the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen, who acquired grounds in Franklin Square, Long Island NY. The entity that was created, however, to run the home was called the Plattduetsche Home Society. The home in Franklin Square was conceptualized in 1910, a year after the home in Tappan was completed, coincendentally enough. However, the home in Franklin Square wasn’t completed until 1922. On the SW part of the property in Franklin Square, the home was built (1140 Hempstead Turnpike). If you use google maps, you will see the front is identical to the former 9th Manhattan old folks home in Tappan, however, several additions and extensions have occurred to the Franklin Square facility though. Also the home property is separate from the current German festival grounds next door. I am very pleased that through the years, including at this very moment, quite a few Masons of the 9th Manhattan District area actively involved with the Plattduetsche home. MASONS = CHARITY!

    Bro. Laurence C. Dittmer, 3°MM
    Past Officer
    Allemania Lodge No. 740
    9th Manhattan Masonic District
    F.&A.M., State of N.Y.

    Life Member
    Plattduetsche Home Society

  85. Marguerite Nering Thompson

    I am 81 years old and can still remember the wonderful times I spent at the Masonic Home at the Octoberfest celebration – the best apple strudel in the world – and the dancing from the music that was played. All of that happened across the street from the home. My family went there each year until I was married. My dad was a 32nd degree mason, I am a PGO of OES of NJ and my husband was a 32nd degree mason. These memories never leave you. The good deeds of masonry never leave your soul – and the goodness and mercy of your sisters and brothers will remain with you. I yearn to go out to Plattduetsche Park in Franklin Square at this time of year.

  86. Great post. I just happened on it because someone was spreading it around on Facebook. Live in the area and have seen this building when they have events in the field across the street but never really took notice. What great history!

  87. Hey all,
    its very interesting what you can find when you search for your ancestors., happened to be that Anton T. Kliegl was my great grand uncle. I knew from my grandparents about him and his brother, but really started finding more and more information about him in the last few month when i started my family tree.
    You were asking why Anton and Leopoldine had the same date on the window, I would say, maybe that is the day the joined the lodge or they made a big donation and this is the date, they put in the window in their honor.
    If anybody has some more information about any “kliegl” I really would be thankful.

  88. I checked again, Anton died 1927. So maybe a donation was in his honor and thats why they made the window for him and his wife!

  89. In the late 1970s, three friends and I visited the Masonic Home on Saturdays as a high school in-service project. Many of the residents were lonely because they were the only members of their families to have come to the U.S. or they had long outlived family and friends who lived here. The resident I remember best was an 80-something-year-old widower who had served in the German merchant marine. As a young man, he had fallen in love with a woman in his hometown in Germany who agreed to wait for him to return from sea. Sixteen years after she made that promise, they were finally married. He loved her as much as she obviously loved him, and he enjoyed talking about how wonderful she had been. One afternoon while he was reminiscing, he asked us if we wanted to see her. We assumed he was going to show us a picture — imagine our confusion and surprise when he pulled a cardboard box out the closet. It contained her ashes, which he was keeping safe so they eventually could be released together into the sea.

  90. I lived in that building for 4 years while at Dominican College. We had mass in that Chapel and the food service manager would play the organ in there when no one was around. So many memories there and what a shame to see it in such bad shape.

    • Wow! I lived there for 3 years as a student at Dominican College. I wish I had known more about the history of the building. It’s so sad to look at these pictures and see that the building is in such bad condition. We definitely had some challenges living in such an old building (like no heat one weekend and problems with the hot water) but we had a lot of fun. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!

  91. My backyard faced the right side of the Masonic home. I have fond memories of the lovely folks who lived there. Fortunately, my mom worked there as a kitchen aid preparing meals for everyone. When the holidays would come I was always invited to the Christmas parties which were held in the dining hall. There was a man who played the organ and everyone would sing holiday songs in English and German. It was beautiful. My mom lost her job because they decided to close the home. Also, there were sheep and horses on the grounds and a man named Louie who cared for them. I remember as a child bring in the backyard with my hands on the fence feeding the horses carrots and staring at what seemed to be an enormous beautiful building !

    Thank you you for sharing photos and information.

  92. Believe it or not, Tappan is where I live, and I’ve seen the outside of this building many times!

  93. I would love to work this as a project of rehabilitation. If the foundation is sound and the outside structure is solid, the roof could be replaced and the inside demolished and rebuilt. I wonder if it is feasible to solicit donations to perhaps turn this old building into individual up to date apartments for masons or even other residents.

  94. I live in Tappan and I am organist. Any information about the pipe organ inside???! Please!

    • There was a two manual 1920′s Mason and Hamlin pipe organ in the chapel’s balcony. Several years ago the console was pushed over the balcony and smashed to the ground by some marauding vandals. Both pipe chambers had all the pipes crushed and the wooden pipes were uprooted and thrown from the balcony and destroyed. There was also an old upright piano that was smashed to pieces. Nobody cares about pipe organs anymore except for really old folks, and old pianos are just filling up landfill faster than ever before. Junk is junk.

  95. How Can I find out if one of my relatives is buried on the grounds here?

  96. How can I find out if a relative is buried on the grounds here

  97. I live there in 94 & 95 while attending Dominican college. Some of the best years of my life!

  98. Glenn Jakobsen

    As a Master Mason at Herder Lodge #698, 9th Manhattan District, I have the privilege of enjoying those stained glass windows at each meeting. As fellow Mason Laurence noted some posts earlier, they now reside at the Whitestone Masonic Temple, where a number of Lodges regularly meet. While far from having as many German members as in the past, there are a good many. It is my understanding that there were numerous meetings at many levels over the years on the matter of the Masonic Home’s fate. The building’s original purpose had to be reevaluated in modern context. Social help was considered key at a time before social security and medicare, but times have changed. With the institution of government programs to assist the sick and elderly, and, in the face of declining masonic membership and the support that followed, it had become financially untenable to maintain it. The 9th district still owns and operates another masonic home. Meanwhile, the beautiful glass windows once again, inspire us to our craft nearly every night of the week. A nostalgic reminder and tie to a genteel past, and yet, a call to continued charity today.

  99. Wow, while attending Dominican College I lived in this beautiful building. Living in such an old building was creepy, but awesome! To this day, I am still afraid of laundry rooms and elevators (thanks to DC). It saddens and upsets me to know what has happened to such a dynamite residence.

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