I figured I would start off the new year with a bang and catalog some New Mexico items. It’s my home, it’s my love, and my world. And I’m always excited when I can get something “Fraternal New Mexico.” We have never been a particularly big fraternal state, I think due to factors of population flux and religious demographics.
I knew that I had several postcards with fraternal subjects in New Mexico, I just didn’t really realize how many I had until I got them all together this past weekend to catalog.
Postcards are for tourists, and when New Mexico became a tourist destination is maybe a
bit debatable. It definitely hit the popular imagination in the first third of the 20th Century, when the Harvey Houses opened up a modicum of luxury for potential travelers coming across on the rails, the same rails that started to make towns into cities starting in the 1880s. The tourism was mostly ethnic in those early days, though: you came to New Mexico to see the mysterious Indians and intrude into their homes, you didn’t come for the accommodations or museums or (western) architecture. Artist colonies in the north end of the state also created a certain artist tourism industry which focused on theosophist religious experiences and otherworldly vistas.
Being a small and reasonably poor fraternal state, both in membership and endowments, our number of actually important fraternal buildings is pretty slim. There aren’t many fraternal halls (ahem…) worth taking/selling a picture of throughout our state’s history. Currently, there are two architecturally “important” Masonic structures in the state: the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe (see above), and the Temple in Las Vegas, the home of Chapman Lodge No.2. I’m kind of surprised and disappointed that I’ve never seen a postcard for Chapman’s Temple—they’re probably out there, I’ve just not come across one yet. There are other quite nice Lodge halls and Temples in the State, they just aren’t in themselves architecturally important. (And we are a fraternal society which forms its ritual around metaphors of architecture!)
These are a few pieces from history, though. Of all of the halls shown in these postcards, ONLY the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple survives. All of the rest have burned or been torn down. Such a shame.
The Temple Lodge No.6 building burned in April of 1967. The old Elks’ Lodge—pictured at the bottom of this post—just southeast of there on Gold Ave (once the secret society row for the city) was torn down in the 60s and a dumpy brown concrete skyscraper was built in its place.
Roswell, down south, has had several pretty swanky Masonic Temples over the past 150 years, and this was probably the first major one. It looks to me like they took an existing building and added the porches to it—kind of awkward. One interesting architectural detail that I noticed, though, is that the crest that runs across the short end of the building has cut-backs suggesting the top of a keystone, one whose dimensions would be the size of the full building. Maybe my brain is grabbing at that, but it’s what I see in this view, anyhow. Romantic for York Rite Masons.
Welcome to 2017, hopefully this will be the first of many posts here on PhotosAndFezzes. New Mexico’s fraternal cosmos has been modest over the centuries, but I’m proud of it. Now to help preserve more of it!