Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Doric Lodge Mural in Fremont

Doric Lodge 92 Mural in Fremont
Doric Lodge 92 Fremont Mural

The Doric Lodge Freemasonry Mural in Fremont is located (here) on the north side of the Doric Lodge No 92 building. We’ve passed this mural hundreds and perhaps thousands of times but never once stopped to contemplate it. In our experience freemasonry invokes one of two responses: “freemasons are secretive and they control the world” or “freemasons, I’ve heard of them, but I’m not into masonry so I don’t know much about them”. Most people have the second response.

Freemasonry is an organization with origins that date back hundreds of years. The formation of the First Grand Lodge in London in 1717 seems to be a key year that before which, not much is known (i.e. theories and conspiracies), and after which, much is known about freemasonry (i.e. well-documented). Freemasonry uses the symbols of the stonemasonry tools not in the operative sense but in the speculative sense of what they mean metaphorically for the development of members. In this mural we see some of these symbols: the square and compass and the letter G at first glance. The square and compass are generally accepted to refer to pursuing right and virtuous action (the square) and circumscribing one’s behavior accordingly (the compass). The letter G has a meaning that is not precisely specified. It could mean “God” or “Geometry” or the “Generative Principle” to name just a few possibilities. In the text The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths, and Symbols (1896) the author Albert Gallatin Mackey says G is “really a corruption of, or perhaps rather a substitution for, the Hebrew letter [omitted] (yod), which is the initial of the ineffable name. As such, it is a symbol of the life-giving and life-sustaining power of God.” How appropriate to be in Fremont, the self-proclaimed center of the universe!

On closer inspection of the mural, at the top of the compass one can see a circle with two parallel lines. Again, from The Symbolism of Freemasonry: Illustrating and Explaining Its Science and Philosophy, Its Legends, Myths, and Symbols (1896) it could “represent St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist: but they really refer to the solstitial points of Cancer and Capricorn, in the zodiac” (page 352). Below the circle are what look to be stylized, lowercase letter Gs.

Why is the word “Doric” in the lodge's name? The best explanation we could find came from a lodge in Michigan which connects the architectural sense of Doric – a Doric order, one of the ancient orders of architecture – with the character of the lodge.

Beyond the symbolism and whether you like or dislike freemasonry, you can’t help but notice the quaintness of the mural outside of the circle. A trolley is running over the Fremont Bridge, and the building on the corner of Fremont Ave N and Fremont Place N. looks innocent and shy. What’s interesting is that Lodge 92 has been in Fremont since 1892. Just a few things have changed since then.

The mural is signed by David Hose, The American Light Studio.
Artist Mark
The Mural Color Tweaked
Mural on the West Side of the Building

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