Motor City Masonry has quite a tale to tell. In the shadow of the automotive decline the memories of a Masonic heyday still stand as testament of the fraternities grandeur in the not so distant past.
Memories tend to be short when the immediate effect of the past is spread out over decades worth of events. But if your in Minnesota, its hard to forget the legacy of the past that reminds you of what once was and what could be again, especially in the physical being of the temple and the spiritual investiture of it. Truly, at some point, the heavens touched the earth in the creation of the Detroit Masonic Temple and in the will expressed through Br. Roscoe Bonisteel and his endeavors to endow the state of Michigan with an enduring Masonic legacy.
Br. Bonisteel, in his day, was an advocate for civil rights, a developer of commercial properties, a philanthropist of libraries and museums, a war veteran, and a believer in the enduring quality of Freemasonry. He was raised in 1914, served as Worshipful Master in 1920, and, following regular advancement, became the Grand Master of Michigan in 1929. Outside of his Masonic career, Br. Bonisteel was an active philanthropist contributing much to higher education, the construction of their libraries, and their book collections. What makes this resume stand out in such relief are the enduring monuments to which he dedicated so much of his energy to. Truly, a testament of what each of us is capable of.
Today Bonisteel is remembered through many buildings named in his honor including the Bonisteel Masonic Library.
Of equal measure, and just down the highway, is a silent jewel of American Masonry. If ever there were a head office, the Detroit Masonic Temple could not only house it, but would have ample room to do what it does today, which is engage relevantly and intelligently with the local community. At its height it could provision 50 Masonic bodies, included drilling halls. auditoriums with capacity of 1600, and main theater with room for 5000+. It was truly an American Cathedral to the Fraternity. Today, it is where you can catch the latest rock show, watch a few rounds of roller derby, and get married, all within the confines of the city and all under the roof of one of the largest Masonic lodges in the world?
What links these two venues is the passion fueled by Br. Bonisteel and kept alive through the works of brothers like him to keep these silent treasures relevant and active in both the Masonic and public community.
In this podcast, Karl Grube, President of the Bonisteel Masonic Library in Ann Arbor Michigan and a member of the board of trustees for the Detroit Masonic Temple Library, talks to Masonic Central about Michigan Masonry, the life and legacy of the Bonisteel Library, and the jewel of the American Masonic edifice, the Detroit Masonic Temple.