Freemasons Hall – Chennai

Among the various forts, mansions & buildings which the British built in the historic city of Madras, the Freemasons Hall makes a fine entrant in the list. The foundation stone was laid on the 26th of February 1923, by then Governor of Madras, Lord Willingdon.

The history of Freemasonry in Madras City is more or less the history of the Lodge of Perfect Unanimity, being the oldest surviving Lodge in the region. Our ancient Brethren being operative Masons is one of the reasons, perhaps, for modern Freemasons always aspiring to possess a building of their own. The Lodge of Perfect Unanimity had several homes in the city, but eventually settled in the building on the Mount Road. Other Lodges which were founded from time to time in the city met in rented buildings in Vepery. The District Grand Lodge as such had no home of its own. As years passed, it was felt that a central home for the Freemasons of the district was necessary and the Lodges working in the Madras City decided that, if the District Grand Lodge acquired a building, they would occupy it for their meetings and pay rent. And thus was born the idea of developing the Freemasons Hall that stands today on Ethiraj Salai, Chennai.

The scheme was brought to fruition in the year 1905 when the District Grand Lodge acquired the property belonging to the Lodge Perfect Unanimity for Rs. 80,000. Additions were made to the building in 1906. As time went on and with the growth of Freemasonry, the building was eventually considered to be inadequate and unsatisfactory for our particular purpose. It was finally decided to sell the property, purchase another site, and erect a more commodious, convenient, and modern building. The Mount Road property was sold for Rs. 1,35,000. In April 1917, the present site was acquired for Rs. 35,750 by the District Grand Lodge. The Lodge met temporarily in the adjoining building known as Chesney Hall which was not quite suitable. It was decided, therefore, to erect temporary premises which could be utilized afterward for the Administrative Offices of the District. This temporary accommodation cost Rs. 22,000.

The Freemasons Hall,  headquarters of the District Grand Lodge of Madras, sits on the land purchased by the District Grand Lodge in 1917, with the Cooum River on the western boundary. This masonic building is a double-story mansion, with three temples. The large lodge room can accommodate up to 200 people, while the small lodge rooms on the first & ground floor are capable of accommodating 60 people at a time and is meant for holding Masonic meetings. On entering the building, you are welcomed by the grand winding staircase, in an anti-clockwise direction, made of Sholingar stones, & wrought iron, leading to the 2nd Storey. This is a traditional feature one finds in most Masonic Buildings across the world.