Masonic Temple, 6 Cathedral Street
“You can go down if you like,” says Paul Bugge, General Manager of Spirit of Newfoundland Productions, nodding towards a trap door in the floor. We’re in a second-floor room of the Masonic Temple.
I take him up on the offer. Lifting up the door and climbing down a home-made ladder, I find myself stooping in a little six by eight room between the first and second floors. Inside, everything is painted black though the walls are starting to show their age. It’s quite cool, and you can feel the dip in temperature as soon as you go down the ladder. Strange, because the room itself isn’t underground.
According to John E. Warren, a Freemason who served for ten years as manager of the building, the second-floor room above the trap door functioned principally as a storage room for the Freemasons (the cupboards apparently contained the regalia of one of the Knights Templar). What went on under the floorboards in this dark and cramped little space remains a mystery to the outside.
The purpose of the room has to be kept secret, says Warren. “We used it as part of a degree that we do in Freemasonry,” Warren explains. The degree or rite has to be a surprise for the candidates.
Not being one for creepy, confined spaces or things that go bump in the night, I take a few snaps and get out quick.
With Spirit of Newfoundland operating out of it, the Temple’s first floor is currently open to the public. Bugge plans to unveil the second floor of the impressive building after some renovations are finished. As for the trap door room, Bugge smiles. “We might use it as a wine cellar.”
— Jon Montes
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