Pasatiempo

Ma­sons on the move

A NEW HIS­TORY OF THE SCOT­TISH RITE TEM­PLE

- Paul Wei­de­man Arts · Architecture · Santa Fe · Scottish Rite · Freemasonry · New Mexico · Mexico · Washington · Mexico State · United States of America · Bradford · Prince · Hamilton · Los Angeles · Santa Fe, NM · Washington Irving · Alhambra · Granada · Spain · Córdoba Province · Seville · Granada · Africa · Chicago · Minnesota · Lew Wallace · Catron County · Granada · Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter has a new life. The long- in­scrutable, Pepto- Bis­mol- pink build­ing, which was nearly sold in 2014, re­mains a vi­tal Ma­sonic in­sti­tu­tion and is now open to the pub­lic for ar­ranged cul­tural events, es­pe­cially those that sup­port chil­dren. A new book, The Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Tem­ple: Freema­sonry, Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Theatre, of­fers an in- depth look at the build­ing and its mem­bers, along with scores of photos of the cen­tury- old scenic stage drops that the Ma­sons em­ploy in their al­le­gor­i­cal de­gree cer­e­monies. Cel­e­brate the book re­lease on Sun­day, June 24, with tours of the Moor­ish-re­vival build­ing and a “Scenic Spec­ta­cle” fea­tur­ing elab­o­rately cos­tumed Ma­sons. On the cover is a scene from de­gree pro­duc­tion “Knights of the Sword, of the East, or of the Ea­gle,” King Cyrus’ court­yard, im­age cour­tesy Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Press, photo Jo Wha­ley.

Si x years ago, lo­cal Scot­tish Rite Ma­sons marked t he cen­ten­nial of their sin­gu­lar build­ing on the cor­ner of Washington Av­enue and Paseo de Per­alta. Just in the last few years, oth­ers in the com­mu­nity have had an­other rea­son to cel­e­brate: Fol­low­ing a sea change in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s poli­cies, the tem­ple, long shrouded in mys­tery, is open to all for ar­ranged events. And the new book The Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Tem­ple: Freema­sonry, Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Theatre (Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Press) fea­tures nearly 150 pho­to­graphs of the iconic build­ing and its dozens of cen­tury- old back­drops that the Ma­sons em­ploy in their semi­an­nual de­gree cer­e­monies.

“One of the land­mark points of this book is that no Scot­tish Rite or­ga­ni­za­tion in the world has ever al­lowed the pho­tog­ra­phy of all the stage set­tings,” said Khris­taan Vil­lela, a Scot­tish Rite mem­ber and one of the book’s es­say­ists. The pro­gres­sion of the 29 de­grees (steps in a pro­gres­sion earned by wit­ness­ing a se­ries of moral­ity plays) con­ferred by the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Ma­sons is a re­mark­able sto­ry­line, as it were, with spec­tac­u­lar stage drops bear­ing names like Veil of Tears, Fiery Tor­ments, and Hall of Eq­uity.

Get a taste of this fas­ci­nat­ing realm at the bookre­lease event at the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter on Sun­day, June 24. Bag­piper Robert Sch­laer will wel­come the pub­lic at 4 p.m., fol­lowed by Eric Fricke play­ing the cen­ter’s or­gan, pre­sen­ta­tions by edi­tors Wendy Waszut-Bar­rett (text) and Jo Wha­ley (pho­tog­ra­phy), and then a “Scenic Spec­ta­cle” with Ma­sons in cos­tume and Mor­row Hall play­ing the or­gan. There will also be tours of the build­ing, book sign­ings, and re­fresh­ments in the grand ball­room. The pre­sen­ta­tion and Scenic Spec­ta­cle re­peat at 6 p.m.

In the book’s first two es­says, New Mex­ico state his­to­rian Rick Hen­dricks il­lu­mi­nates the com­plex his­tory of freema­sonry, which many his­to­ri­ans be­lieve was de­rived from the ma­sons who designed and built build­ings, and who were con­ver­sant in the ar­cana of ar­chi­tec­ture and ge­om­e­try. Hen­dricks pro­vides great de­tail on lodges, de­grees, and the “ap­pen­dant body” known as the Scot­tish Rite, which ac­tu­ally had a French ori­gin and grew in the United States be­gin­ning in 1801.

By the mid-19th cen­tury, freema­sonry was well estab­lished in North­ern New Mex­ico. Among the ranks of the Ma­sonic or­ders were 11 New Mex­ico gover­nors, in­clud­ing Charles Bent, Lew Wal­lace, and L. Brad­ford Prince; as well as fron­tiers­man Christo­pher “Kit” Car­son, at­tor­ney Thomas Benton Ca­tron, and prom­i­nent mer­chants the Spiegel­berg broth­ers.

A NEW STYLE FOR SANTA FE

Isaac Hamil­ton Rapp was the first ar­chi­tect con­sid­ered to de­sign a Scot­tish Rite tem­ple for Santa Fe. His plan was for a neo­clas­si­cal build­ing not un­like those he used for the first state capi­tol and the first gov­er­nor’s man­sion. The choice of a Moor­ish-re­vival build­ing, designed by the Los An­ge­les firm of Sum­ner Hunt and Si­las Burns, was inf lu­enced by an­other im­por­tant lo­cal Ma­son, Mu­seum of New Mex­ico founder Edgar Lee Hewett.

This con­struc­tion took place in an un­usual co­in­ci­dence of de­sign de­bates: the Scot­tish Rite ul­ti­mately opened on Nov. 17, 1912, one day be­fore the open­ing at t he Palace of t he Gover­nors of t he New- Old

Santa Fe Ex­hi­bi­tion, which proved to be the gen­e­sis of the Span­ish-Pue­blo Re­vival ar­chi­tec­tural style, or Santa Fe Style.

“It is very in­ter­est­ing that this build­ing was a kind of ful­crum in the whole debate around what style Santa Fe should use to pro­mote it­self,” Vil­lela said. Plans for the new Ma­sonic build­ing were de­vel­oped

at a time when Amer­i­cans had a fas­ci­na­tion with Ori­en­tal­ism and a fan­ta­sized ver­sion of the “ex­otic East.” “Peo­ple were aware of Washington Irv­ing’s Tales of the Al­ham­bra, but also Hewett and oth­ers, such as the cham­ber of com­merce, were very in­ter­ested in iden­tity and the in­crease in tourism. They re­al­ized we have some­thing to trade on, which is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, and Santa Fe, Granada, which ex­plains the paint­ings on the Scot­tish Rite stage cur­tain and above the prosce­nium, that con­nec­tion with Old Spain.”

Vil­lela said that the iconic touch­stones of the Moor­ish-re­vival style in­cluded the Al­ham­bra, the for­ti­fied hill­top palace in Granada, Spain; the Great Mosque of Cór­doba; and the Gi­ralda Tower in Seville. The Al­ham­bra dates from the cen­turies of Is­lamic rule in Granada. Arab and Ber­ber Is­lamic forces con­quered much of Spain in 711. One of the im­por­tant mo­ments in Span­ish his­tory is shown in a mu­ral above the prosce­nium arch of the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter’s au­di­to­rium: a de­pic­tion of the 1492 sur­ren­der of Muham­mad XII, the last sul­tan of the Moor­ish king­dom of Granada, to Is­abella and Fer­di­nand of Spain.

The Moors were a pres­ence in Spain for seven cen­turies, and a last­ing in­flu­ence on lan­guage, ar­chi­tec­ture, and other realms of Span­ish cul­ture. “All you have to do is learn the ba­sics of Span­ish lan­guage and you have words like adobe and al­fom­bra, all of those Arab-loan words in Span­ish. So many as­pects of North African or Is­lamic cul­ture were com­pletely baked into Spain from those 700 years of back and forth. The artes­on­ado geo­met­ric-pat­tern wood­work ceil­ings we find in colo­nial Mex­i­can ar­chi­tec­ture are con­sid­ered to be es­sen­tially Span­ish, but we know they came from North Africa,” Vil­lela said. “At Scot­tish Rite, there is a con­cep­tual over­lap if you look at Is­lamic ge­om­e­try, but I don’t think it had any­thing to do with the con­struc­tion of the build­ing, as such. Maybe it’s co­in­ci­den­tal, but the Scot­tish Rite is a very apt space for peo­ple who spend a lot of time think­ing about ge­om­e­try and math­e­mat­ics and as­tron­omy.”

The ex­te­rior of the build­ing, which some res­i­dents have nick­named the Pepto-Bis­mol Build­ing, is thought to have orig­i­nally been an earth­ier pink. Its front steps num­ber 29, the same as the num­ber of de­grees con­ferred in the Scot­tish Rite lodge. The struc­ture, which is made of hand-mixed con­crete, is “very solid,” Vil­lela said. In his es­say, he de­scribes in­te­rior de­tails, in­clud­ing the arched doors and win­dows, hav­ing their top sec­tions framed by al­fiz mold­ings, Navajo-style rugs bear­ing Ma­sonic de­vices, the li­brary, ban­quet hall, a mid­cen­tury dor­mi­tory wing, and, most splen­did of all, the au­di­to­rium with its gold-painted choir-loft screens, sky-painted ceil­ing, and scores of fan­tas­tic stage back­drops that were pro­duced by the Sos­man & Lan­dis Stu­dio of Chicago.

THE CER­E­MO­NIAL SCOT­TISH RITE

Waszut-Bar­rett writes that the pro­duc­tions dur­ing which Ma­sonic de­grees are con­ferred evolved from sim­pler cer­e­monies “in dark and non­de­script places” to in­clude elab­o­rate room decor, cos­tumes, and “at­mo­spheric ef­fects and il­lu­sions to fur­ther de­pict the leg­endary oc­cur­rences as pre­sented in Ma­sonic de­grees.” Ex­am­ples of the Scot­tish Rite de­grees are the fifth de­gree, Per­fect Mas­ter, which in­cor­po­rates les­sons in hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness; the 20th de­gree, Mas­ter of the Sym­bolic Lodge, con­cern­ing

lib­erty, fra­ter­nity, and equal­ity; and the 25th de­gree, Knight of the Brazen Ser­pent, designed to in­still the con­cept of the pure, ce­les­tial, eter­nal soul of man.

Ma­sons rely on fra­ter­nal sup­ply com­pa­nies that spe­cial­ize in re­galia for kings, shep­herds, sol­diers, priests, and other char­ac­ters for the the­atri­cal de­gree pro­duc­tions. Th­ese com­pa­nies sup­ply wigs, beards, and much more. “Each de­gree de­manded a se­ries of unique ar­ti­facts, such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Scales of Jus­tice, the Delta of Enoch, golden ves­sels, can­de­labras, skele­tons, cas­kets, silken ban­ners, and even stuffed sheep,” Waszut-Bar­rett writes.

The es­say­ist and ed­i­tor pro­vides great de­tail on paint­ing tech­niques that made use of dry pig­ment and dyes re­sult­ing in drops that are still vi­brant af­ter more than a cen­tury. Waszut-Bar­ret founded a com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in his­toric theater scenery restora­tion in 2000 and led the restora­tion of the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite scenery col­lec­tion be­gin­ning in 2002. To­day she is president of His­toric Stage Ser­vices LLC in Min­nesota. The stan­dard drop size was 24 feet high by 36 feet wide. Each drop was sand­wiched be­tween wood bat­tens at the top and bot­tom. The top was at­tached to three wire ropes with a coun­ter­weight at their other ends, and th­ese were hung on beams with pul­leys. The sys­tem al­lows stage­hands to eas­ily raise and lower the hang­ing drops.

In one spe­cial- ef­fects tech­nique, a panel of the­atri­cal gauze is at­tached in the midst of a drop scene. Lit from the front, the panel blends into the rest of the drop sur­face. But when lit from the back, a painted form — such as the Ark of the Covenant in the Treasure Cham­ber scene — is mag­i­cally re­vealed. Many of the scenery back­drops are shown along with smaller painted leg drops and cut drops, which add di­men­sion to the fore­ground and mid­dle ground, re­spec­tively.

“What’s so, so spe­cial about this theater is that it’s all pre­served,” said Wha­ley, a pho­tog­ra­pher who is rep­re­sented by Photo-Eye Gallery. “In the his­tory of scenic art, we have ba­si­cally a mu­seum piece here in Santa Fe. And it’s so well pre­served be­cause of our dry climate and be­cause of the care that the Ma­sons have given it. It’s liv­ing his­tory. The drops, and many of the cos­tumes, are over a hun­dred years old.”

Wha­ley pho­tographed many of t he back­drops sev­eral years ago, when the Scot­tish Rite build­ing was briefly on the mar­ket. “My MFA in paint­ing is from UC - Berke­ley, and for five years af­ter that, my day job was as a scenic artist at the San Francisco opera and bal­let com­pa­nies. I knew what I was look­ing at when I saw th­ese scenic back­drops.” It took her two months to con­vince the head ma­son to al­low her to doc­u­ment many of the stage drops.

“The Ma­sons used my pho­to­graphs to pro­mote the theater for rentals,” she said. “The other thing I did for them was light­ing de­sign. I ran that board [the orig­i­nal Frank Adam Elec­tric Com­pany light­ing con­trols] and wrote down for them the num­bers for the right light­ing for each drop. It’s all about color. The light­ing is art. I tried to use all the nat­u­ral light that was ex­ist­ing be­cause I wanted a sense of au­then­tic­ity. And I wanted it to look like there was a layer of dust, be­cause that’s what that place is like.”

“What’s so, so spe­cial about this theater is that it’s all pre­served. In the his­tory of scenic art, we have ba­si­cally a mu­seum piece here in Santa Fe. And it’s so well pre­served be­cause of our dry climate and be­cause of the care that the Ma­sons have given it. It’s liv­ing his­tory.”

— pho­tog­ra­pher Jo Wha­ley

PEO­PLE IN THE SCENES For the book pro­ject, Wha­ley pop­u­lated her pho­to­graphs of the Scot­tish Rite back­drops with ac­tors. She worked with Waszut-Bar­rett in an ef­fort to recre­ate the de­gree en­act­ments as they were done when the build­ing opened 106 years ago. “Wendy is ex­tremely knowl­edge­able about ev­ery facet of this, so she did the set­ups and I asked her, ‘OK, what would be hap­pen­ing here in terms of the plot? And once I knew that, she stepped back and I could di­rect the guys on the stage so that I could get the right vis­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the sense of depth and the in­te­gra­tion with the back­drops. Ba­si­cally, I wanted to do a tableau vi­vant for each one, so it would make sense as a one- shot im­age for the reader.”

Most of the ac­tors shown on stage in the tem­ple are lo­cal Ma­sons (in­clud­ing Vil­lela), but when nec­es­sary, Wha­ley was obliged to add a few other ac­quain­tances. Also seen in cos­tume are pho­tog­ra­phers Brad Wil­son and Peter Ogilvie, sculp­tor Wal­ter Robin­son, and cu­ra­tor Daniel Kosharek of the Palace of the Gover­nors Photo Ar­chives. The reader will no­tice that some of the fig­ures are blurred. That was in­ten­tional. “I wanted that sense of an­i­ma­tion,” Wha­ley said, “and I didn’t want it to be so much about the in­di­vid­u­als.

“As an artist, this book rep­re­sents a real stretch for me. I’m ba­si­cally act­ing as a photo ed­i­tor and do­ing doc­u­men­tary work, where my whole world has been fan­tasy work. When I was a scenic artist, that’s liv­ing in an imag­i­nary world. This is the first time I’ve done a ‘doc­u­ment.’ ”

This par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ment will be a rev­e­la­tion for area res­i­dents who have been cu­ri­ous about the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter and what goes on there. “It’s like a Wes An­der­son film set; it’s so bizarre,” Wha­ley said.

The elab­o­rate dra­matic sets and cos­tumes are brought into play twice a year to con­fer the Scot­tish Rite de­grees. “It’s done in the fall and spring in what are called re­u­nions,” Vil­lela ex­plained. “In the early days, they would also do spe­cial re­u­nions — for ex­am­ple, for sol­diers go­ing over­seas in World War I. And th­ese re­quire over a hun­dred peo­ple to put on, with the makeup and props, stage sets, ac­tors, and all the cook­ing for meals. What hap­pens on that week­end is that all can­di­dates watch the de­grees. A cou­ple of the de­grees are read to you in class­rooms, but most of the de­grees are staged with ac­tors and cos­tumes. Each de­gree has a script, a les­son that’s in­tended to be shown to you. For ex­am­ple, one de­gree is all about pre­par­ing to take care of your fam­ily af­ter your death. There are many that teach les­sons in civics, be­cause the mod­ern Scot­tish Rite in the U.S. was gelled in the late 19th cen­tury, and a lot of les­sons are about be­ing a good Amer­i­can.”

While Ma­sonic cer­e­monies vary from na­tion to na­tion, “in gen­eral, the ba­sic ideas emerged out of the En­light­en­ment,” Vil­lela said. “They have to do

with hu­man rights, free­dom, and democracy, which have a par­tic­u­lar U. S. spin in the Scot­tish Rite, so there are dis­cus­sions about op­po­si­tion to tyranny and ar­bi­trary rule. But they’re worked out in th­ese his­tor­i­cal moral­ity plays set in an­cient Egypt and the Cru­sader pe­riod and me­dieval churches peo­pled by knights.”

The teach­ing sto­ries con­tain mul­ti­ple lev­els of mean­ing. “They’re al­le­gories. That’s the foun­da­tion of all of freema­sonry,” ac­cord­ing to Vil­lela. “They’re telling you that one of the key tools is the trowel, for ex­am­ple, but very few freema­sons are build­ing build­ings to­day.”

CON­TIN­U­ING VI­TAL­ITY

In 2014, the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite was nearly sold. When mem­ber­ship fell be­low 1,000, the lead­er­ship rec­og­nized that the or­ga­ni­za­tion could not fi­nan­cially sup­port the ag­ing struc­ture, ac­cord­ing to long­time Ma­son Bert Dal­ton, board president of the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Tem­ple His­tor­i­cal Preser­va­tion Foun­da­tion. A smaller, more mod­ern fa­cil­ity seemed prefer­able. Dal­ton noted that many grand Ma­sonic build­ings built from the early to mid-20th cen­tury have been sold and re­pur­posed, in­clud­ing 13 just in Ari­zona and Colorado.

How­ever, the sale was strongly op­posed by a large num­ber of Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite mem­bers, and many mem­bers of the gen­eral pub­lic. The is­sue was re­solved with re­vi­sion of the cor­po­rate struc­ture and the elec­tion of a new board of di­rec­tors. Since then, lo­cal Ma­sons have do­nated thou­sands of vol­un­teer hours on main­te­nance and restora­tion, and a venue co­or­di­na­tor was hired to man­age event and fa­cil­ity rentals. In 2017, rental dis­counts to non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions put $93,000 back into the com­mu­nity.

Dal­ton said the foun­da­tion is “build­ing a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram to fund restora­tion pro­jects that will en­sure the tem­ple is around for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We are com­mu­nity part­ners and want to con­tinue to pro­vide a spe­cial place for arts, cul­ture, his­tory, and ed­u­ca­tion, with the em­pha­sis on pro­grams that sup­port chil­dren. We heard the huge pub­lic out­cry when the tem­ple was for sale and know the com­mu­nity is be­hind us.”

The Scot­tish Rite re­mains an ac­tive in­sti­tu­tion in Santa Fe. “It is lively,” Vil­lela said. “They do meet monthly. There are three dif­fer­ent groups, each hav­ing charge over a cer­tain num­ber of the de­grees.” He stressed that un­mask­ing the back­drop scenes and di­vulging many of the de­tails of the de­gree cer­e­monies has not di­luted their sig­nif­i­cance for Scot­tish Rite mem­bers. “Jo has ba­si­cally in­ven­to­ried the back­drops, and you can look up all the se­crets on­line. But that can never re­place what it ac­tu­ally feels like, the bod­ily ex­pe­ri­ence, to spend two and a half days go­ing through th­ese de­grees from noon on Fri­day to Sun­day af­ter­noon. It is a cathar­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“In gen­eral, the ba­sic ideas [of Ma­sonry] emerged out of the En­light­en­ment. They have to do with hu­man rights, free­dom, and democracy, which have a par­tic­u­lar U.S. spin in the Scot­tish Rite, so there are dis­cus­sions about op­po­si­tion to tyranny and ar­bi­trary rule.”

— Khris­taan Vil­lela, Ma­son

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 ??  ?? “The Traitor” de­gree pro­duc­tion staged at the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite, circa 1930, photo T. Harmon Parkhurst, col­lec­tion of Chap­man Lodge No. 2, Las Ve­gas, New Mex­ico; all pho­to­graphs from The Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Tem­ple: Freema­sonry, Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Theatre, edited by Wendy Waszut-Bar­rett and Jo Wha­ley, cour­tesy Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Press
“The Traitor” de­gree pro­duc­tion staged at the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite, circa 1930, photo T. Harmon Parkhurst, col­lec­tion of Chap­man Lodge No. 2, Las Ve­gas, New Mex­ico; all pho­to­graphs from The Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite Tem­ple: Freema­sonry, Ar­chi­tec­ture, and Theatre, edited by Wendy Waszut-Bar­rett and Jo Wha­ley, cour­tesy Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Press
 ??  ?? Drop de­tail for de­gree pro­duc­tion “Mas­ter of the Royal Se­cret,” grand en­camp­ment
Drop de­tail for de­gree pro­duc­tion “Mas­ter of the Royal Se­cret,” grand en­camp­ment
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 ??  ?? Above, scene from de­gree pro­duc­tion “Mas­ter of the Royal Se­cret,” grand en­camp­ment; top, stained-glass win­dows in the theater, gifts from var­i­ous Scot­tish Rite Ma­son “re­union” classes
Above, scene from de­gree pro­duc­tion “Mas­ter of the Royal Se­cret,” grand en­camp­ment; top, stained-glass win­dows in the theater, gifts from var­i­ous Scot­tish Rite Ma­son “re­union” classes
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 ??  ?? Above, early 20th-cen­tury Scot­tish Rite Ma­sons liv­ing near Navajo In­di­ans gave tra­di­tional rugs as gifts to their Ma­sonic lodges, in­clud­ing this one to Santa Fe’s Mon­tezuma Lodge No. 1; top, scene from de­gree pro­duc­tion “Noa­chite, or Prus­sian Knight Woods”
Above, early 20th-cen­tury Scot­tish Rite Ma­sons liv­ing near Navajo In­di­ans gave tra­di­tional rugs as gifts to their Ma­sonic lodges, in­clud­ing this one to Santa Fe’s Mon­tezuma Lodge No. 1; top, scene from de­gree pro­duc­tion “Noa­chite, or Prus­sian Knight Woods”
 ??  ?? Above, 72 scenery drops sus­pended above the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite stage; top, Moor­ish al­fiz win­dow mold­ings can be seen in the cen­ter’s up­per lobby and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices
Above, 72 scenery drops sus­pended above the Santa Fe Scot­tish Rite stage; top, Moor­ish al­fiz win­dow mold­ings can be seen in the cen­ter’s up­per lobby and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices
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