The plot of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte ("The Magic Flute") is full of references to Masonic ideals and ceremonies. Mozart and his librettist, Emanuel Schikaneder, were both members of Lodge of the Nine Muses. It's an eighteen century enlightenment thing. The Masons were a secret society of rational and benevolent builders, the good guys who built this world. They still are, or so they say.
But they've fallen on hard times. This is the Masonic Scottish Rite Temple, designed by designed by Millard Sheets, at 4357 Wilshire Boulevard, from 1961, massive and impressive, and now for sale:
The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in the Park Mile district - once the focus of a bitter dispute with neighborhood groups - was put on the market last week for $13.5 million.
The iconic structure at 4357 Wilshire Blvd. has been closed since 2006 by a court order sought by the city under pressure from neighbors. They complained that the fraternal order had allowed the building to be used for concerts and other events that were a nuisance….
Really? Presidents Buchanan, Ford, Garfield, Harding, Jackson, McKinley, Monroe, Polk, Roosevelt (Franklin D and Theodore), Taft, Truman, and Washington of course, were Masons, as was Benedict Arnold – and Mark Twain, and Sir Author Conan Doyle, and Ty Cobb and George M. Cohan – and Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, and Henry Ford and George Wallace. Oh well. This Masonic Scottish Rite Temple will be gone soon enough, or turned into something else.
So this is a bit of an elegy. The last visit was in April 2007 – with another camera, and before the Masons just gave up.