Old Sydney Masonic Lodges given new life as shops and houses

A masonic lodge in the New England area being used as an antiques store.

Knowing the secret handshake used to be a requirement for getting inside, but now you have to belong to an even more exclusive club to access their old meeting places: those who can afford the multimillion-dollar prices.

Sydney’s former masonic lodges, where the various fraternity groups known as the Freemasons used to convene for social gatherings, are being reinvented as luxury housing and offer some of the country’s most unique homes.

A former Masonic hall converted into a four-bedroom house recently went to auction in the inner west, revealing how the buildings are often being readjusted from their previous use.

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The Newtown property includes a living area with 4m ceilings and an exterior of pillared columns extending across multiple levels.

It also includes an impressive artist’s studio that takes up almost the entire basement, along with an 11.8m by 10m workshop and another studio.

A former Masonic Lodge in Newtown that was converted into a home.

The Newtown property abounds with arches and unique detailing.

The property was converted into housing by the previous owner, an artist, over a gradual conversion starting in the 1980s, which he described as “30 years of labour and love”.

“We really wanted to preserve the ambience of the hall,” artist Tom Arthur told the Inner West Courier.

The property passed in at auction on a vendor bid of $5.5 million but later sold in an after auction deal for an undisclosed price.

A former Freemasons hall in Watsons Bay has also been transformed into a home. It was recently on the market with a $15 million price guide before being withdrawn from the market earlier this spring.

The glamorous home on Gap Rd was previously owned by fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, who sold the home in 2016.

A luxury Watsons Bay home converted from an old Masonic Lodge.

The interior of the Watsons Bay home retains traces of its Masonic past.

It was built in the 1920s and retains a hallmark of its years as a Masonic Lodge in the high ceilings, rows of windows and grand entry.

A former Masonic Lodge in the NSW town of Tenterfield went up for auction in July after being used as a rural antiques store. It remains up for sale with a price guide of $440,000.

The lodge was built in 1900 and extended in 1926. Before housing antiques, it had been used as a Christmas shop and includes a large hall.

The Newtown Lodge conversion included very high ceilings.

The freemasons are a group of fraternal organisations dating back to the stonemasons of the fourteenth century.

The basic organisational unit is the Lodge, which meets regularly to conduct formal business or initiate ceremonies.

The Tenterfield lodge was filled with antiques.

Masonic rituals can vary between groups because there is little consistency among Freemasonry jurisdictions.

Conspiracy theorists have long associated Freemasonry with the New World Order and the Illuminati.

This article from The Daily Telegraph originally appeared as “Old Masonic Lodges are being reinvented as luxury houses and shops”.