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The Lodge Room
At the end of the American Revolution, the British occupied Newport. In an attempt to prevent our French allies from landing troops directly in Newport, the British created a barrier in the harbor by purposely sinking their fleet of ships which consisted of 9 troop transports & 4 frigates carrying 24 - 38 cannons each.
After the war, the State of Rhode Island took possession of all remaining British munitions which included the "Stone Fleet" or the sunken ships in Newport Harbor. The members of the lodge who were Yankee shipbuilders at the time, approached the State to purchase and reclaim the timbers of some of these ships. It has been determined by underwater archeology that 3 of the 4 frigates were found, the 4th was missing and it is believed that this ship named the "HMS Juno" was the reclaimed wood that was used to build the arches of the vaulted ceiling that form the lodge room from the rib cuts of the ship. The ship's planking was used throughout the building as flooring.
In 1914, after 118 years of constant use, the building was in need of repairs. The cost of the repairs came from the funds of the lodge and included repairing the chimney and replacing the heating stove and furniture. The interior decoration of the lodge room was also rethought.
In 1915, member Max Mueller, a German immigrant who had attended the Rhode Island School of Design was commissioned by the lodge members to design the lodge room. Brother Mueller borrowed copies of the "Book of the Dead" and the "Papyrus of Anu" from the Boston Public Library, selecting images that he believed had Masonic symbolism. He handpainted each fresco on wet plaster in an arrangement of murals, laid out to tell a story of human construction.
One particular sequence outlines the Egyptians building their structures with sundry materials of mud bricks. They then transition to workers working with stone, forming stone guilds, and using tools that Operative and Freemasons would recognize. The murals then depict the final structures of the Great Pyramids of Guiza which are depicted as complete in the East.
The chairs were also designed with this Egyptian motif in mind and were donated by members and their families.
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