Hidden Treasures: Sacred Relics of the Freemasons

At Boston's Grand Lodge, Ceremonial Artifacts Kept Under Wrap

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Golden-painted, wooden bunches of grapes that originally hung outside the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, a meeting place for early Freemasons such as Paul Revere, George Washington and John Hancock. Kelley Connolly hide caption

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toggle caption Kelley Connolly
A three-inch  gold urn silversmith Paul Revere made upon George Washington's death.

Also kept off display and locked in a vault, a three-inch gold urn silversmith Paul Revere made when fellow mason George Washington died. Courtesy Massachusetts Grand Masonic Lodge hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Massachusetts Grand Masonic Lodge

Freemasonry dates to the 17th century. Its members are part of a private fraternity, and do charitable work. But the society keeps secrets, too — men must ask to join, and symbols and rituals are used to bond members together.

At a Masonic museum in Boston — the birthplace of American Freemasonry — some ceremonial objects in storage are considered so sacred that most Freemasons aren't allowed to see them.

As part of an occasional series for All Things Considered — the Hidden Treasures Radio Project — Harriet Baskas takes a look inside the vaults of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.

This story is part of the Hidden Treasures Radio Project series, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Development Authority of King County, Wash.



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