The Launceston Lodge of Research No 69 T.C. is the second Research Lodge consecrated in Tasmania, the first being the Hobart Lodge of Research No 62 T.C.
Masters of the Lodge have included many senior Tasmanian Grand Lodge Officers, including three Grand Masters, three Past Deputy Grand Masters and fifteen Grand Wardens.
Launceston’s Masonic Hall is one of the few secular buildings in the city still used for its original purpose.
The Launceston Masonic Centre which has stood sentinel over the Tamar Street end of Brisbane Street for over 130 years. It is opened from time to time so that members of the public can inspect its interior. Visitors are able visit the lodge room and library on the upper floors.
The Lodge room is a real ‘time warp’, in-as-much that the building retains so many of its original features and fittings. It is part of Launceston’s built heritage and it is the Freemasons’ intention to maintain it for future generations.
Some examples include the handsome mahogany-cased tracing boards that are used for the instruction of Freemasons when they take the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry. These fine pieces were painted by Miss Sherwin, an accomplished artist who was a member of a prominent local family.
Similarly, most pieces in the Lodge Room were made by local craftspeople, including the fine Secretary’s desk made by Charles Finney, the undertaker, and carved chairs used by the officers of the Lodge which are believed to have been made by a Mr Cummings who was a carpentry teacher at the Grammar School.
Also on display during an open day are examples of the regalia used by the various orders in Freemasonry during their meetings and an enlarged photograph of the very fragile pre-1890 Masonic street banner that is one of the treasures housed in the Centre and is one of only several known to still exist in Australia.
Unfortunately, they are unable to exhibit this piece because it is made of silk and is very fragile. They are currently looking at ways to secure funding to have it properly conserved so as to be able to exhibit this piece one day together with the stunning gold embroidered collar and cuffs that were worn by the banner bearer.
The land on which the Centre stands was secured by the Freemasons in 1880 for the sum of 500 pounds because of its central location and east/west orientation. Masonic Lodges, like churches, are generally built on an east/west axis with the Master placed in the eastern end and the next most senior officer, the Senior Warden, placed in the western end. The building, designed by Brother H Conway, and built by Brother James Hill at a cost of 2,649 pounds, was opened with great fanfare on 15 October 1884.
A report in The Tasmanian Illustrated Supplement for 6 November 1884 states that the opening ‘attracted the largest concourse of Masons ever seen in Tasmania, brethren from all parts of the colony and many from intercolonial and foreign Lodges putting in an appearance’. The opening was conducted by the Rev RD Poulett-Harris, the Right Worshipful District Grand Master for the District Grand Lodge of Tasmania, English Constitution. Poulett-Harris was headmaster of the Hobart High School.
Those wishing to inspect the Lodge room can contact the Masonic Centre on Fridays on 03 6334 2179.