March 10, 2019

Get to Know The Port Adelaide Masonic Centre

By VW Bro Iain McKenzie PGP May 2009

Tonight will see us introduced to the Port Adelaide Masonic Centre. This will be achieved by;

  • Gaining some history of how the building was financed
  • Identify who the building designer was
  • Gaining an insight to the architectural style
  • What are the lines and shapes on the building exterior

First let’s go back to the time of the first Masonic building in Port Adelaide. Built on the corner of Commercial Road and Russel Streets. It’s the car park by P&R Electrical. It was in use till 1966

The Laying of the foundation stone and consecration were big events at the time and people travel long distances to attend. The foundation stone was laid by H C Muecke on 15 March 1881. Several hundred masons marched in full regalia lead by a military band. The whole event detailed in the SA Register of March the 7th. Like wise the Consecration Ceremony was detailed in November 19th 1881

Port Adelaide of the late 1800 and early part of the 1900 was vastly different than today. At times the high tides would go far up the Port Road. Indeed the Port Road at one time was a causeway. The Uniting Church in Commercial Road built in 1856 has its foundations are well bellow the road level of today. Who can remember stepping down into the Port Admiral Hotel? Well that small step takes you on to the first floor of the hotel.


The land that this lodge building stands on at that time was the Lion Timber Company.

This building is the second lodge building erected in Port Adelaide. The first was built in 1881 on the eastern side of Commercial Road just near the railway bridge and was used well into the mid 20 century.

The first step to build this lodge room took place in 1925 when a committee composed of Port Adelaide and Semaphore lodges made an offer of 2,000 pounds ($4,000) to the administrators of the Prince Alfred Sailors Home in St Vincent Street. The offer was accepted, however, the Supreme Court intervened and ruled that the home must be submitted to public action and that property latter sold for 5050 pounds ($10,100).

This did not deter the committee and in 1925 the land for this building was purchased for 4500 pounds ($9,000). It was then known as Proctors block. At this time a trust was formed between The Adelaide Lodge, Hope Lodge and Adelaide Lewis each being equal partners. The duties of this trust were to raise the money for the construction and to administer the complex that would consist as today of shops, social room and lodge meeting room. When the land was purchased it was occupied by Darnell’s Second Hand Shop and Whites Picture Theatre both were demolished.

Matters then moved very quickly and by June 1927 plans and specification were completed.

A mortgage of 10,000 pounds ($20,000) form South Australian Super Fund @ 7% was secured plus other finance from interest and non interest debentures, some donations and a loan from the Adelaide Lodge. The total building cost 19,607 pounds ($39,214)

At a trust meeting of July 1925 the minutes show that Bro Hipkins offer 50 tons of sand and 10 tons of blue stone that were aboard the Nelcebee. The sand offered was from France and was used as ship ballast. This sands fine hard structure made it ideal for building foundations.

The Foundation stone was laid by MW Bro Hermann Koeppen Wendt on 6th Feb.1928. Went became the Acting as Grand Master after the death of then Grand Master MW Bro Poole on 2 May 1925. Wendt held this position for 11 ½ months.

While in England in 1926, Wendt bought a ceremonial sword similar to the one used by the Grand Lodge of England and presented it to Grand Lodge. This sword is called the Wendt Sword and is still by GL on all official occasions.

The mortgage on the building was finally paid out in 1963.


The architect was C W Rutt a Freemason. He was born on the 7th Aug 1875 at College Park and attended the nearby St Peters College. He was a notable student and played football and cricket. In 1899 he married Lilian May Nienaber. They had 4 children 3 girls and 1 boy. The family maintained its association with St Peters living at Menelurra in Third Ave.

He was one of the first South Australian to own a motor car and had an association with the Norwood Football club. He died on the 2nd February 1932 aged 56.

Rutt received his architectural education by being articled to Edward Davies. In 1899 was offered a partnership. The partnership was Edward Davies & Rutt. This partnership secured the first place award in competition for the Adelaide Workmen’s Homes. The homes are at 226 Angas Street.

In 1910 Rutt became a sole practitioner. This was followed by a partnership with J Seppelt then another period as sole practitioner and finally in 1925 he went in to partnership again this time with George Gavin Lawson. This Partnership lasted until 1927 from which time he practised alone.

Some of Rutts public achievements are;

  • Fellow of the South Australian Institute of Architects
  • Member of the Building Act Advisory Committee
  • Senior Deacon at College Park Congregational Church and Superintendent of the Sunday School
  • And was on the board of directors of Kings College when the school was formed

Rutt was a Freemason and was;

  • Master of St Peters Lodge No 47
  • Foundation First Principal of St Peters Royal Arch Chapter no 13 \
  • Senior Grand Warden in 1930 and later held the rank of Grand Superintendent of Works
  • He was also a member of the Duke of Leinster Lodge as well as being connected to other Masonic orders

Other buildings that Rutt was involved with are;

  • The Congregational Church at Military Road Henley Beach
  • Henley Beach Town Hall
  • Burnside Town Hall
  • Savings Bank at Victor Harbour
  • John Creswell Stand Adelaide Oval
  • Some will remember John Martins department store and the News building in North Tce


Being designed and built in the 1920’s this building has the style refer to as Art Deco and the Port Adelaide Masonic Centre is a fine example of the style even with its Egyptian shape.

One of the most iconic art deco buildings is Chrysler building in New York. When you see a picture of New York it is the curvy one.

However, there are some much closer to home than you think. Some of the art deco buildings in South Australia refer to on the internet are the;

  • Capri Theatre
  • Semaphore Palais
  • Port Adelaide Masonic Centre

The Port Adelaide Masonic Centre is a well kept and maintained example of the art deco time that the architect festooned with interesting lines, shapes, motifs and ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

With its heavy massing and Egyptian style it is unique Masonic Centres.


or The concept of the Egyptian Hieroglyph

Shape of the Building

The building is situated on the corner of Commercial Road and Dale Street. Both facades are essential symmetrical with exception of a few window’s and the shops bellow the veranda. The front of the building is Dale Street. The building has such a realistic Egyptian temple shape that under a brilliant blue summer sky one could close their eyes and be transported back to the time of the pharaohs

Hieroglyph for Temple

The overall shape of the building is of paramount importance as it is an Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph meaning “temple”. This hieroglyph appears on the Marmer Plate where it not only represents “temple” it also represent “Dawn” the Dawning of the Age of Taurus in the Precession of the Equinoxes.

Hieroglyph for Heaven

Below the curved eaves on both the front and side of the building is the Hieroglyph for “heaven”. On the front it is pure and unspoilt. However, on the side of the building in Commercial Road the hieroglyph appears tainted with other Egyptian or Masonic symbols. On close examination it can be seen that they are Anglicized hieroglyphs and the inscription reads “Masonic Building”.

Four World Pillars

In Ancient Egyptian mythology the Four Wold Pillars held up the heavens and are here represented the 4 cardinal points N S E W. These four world pillars are clearly visible on the front and side of the building.

Fifth World Pillar or Axis of Munde

The fifth and most important World Pillar was the axis of Munde around which the heavens appeared to revolve. The Axis Munde represents the Fifth Cardinal Point. This fifth Pillar is found engraved into each of the corner towers. It is not immediately recognized as a Pillar. It is in the form of yet another Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph. It’s in the hieroglyph for “plant” and is composed of three sacred lotus lilies meaning “tree of life”. The lotus flower was used in Ancient Egypt to represent Life and Resurrection.

In ancient Egyptian text it is written of the tree of life, “I am the plant which comes from Nu”

The Tree of Life grew out of the Sacred Mound and the branches are reaching out and supporting the star and planet studded sky, while the roots reach down into the watery abyss of the Netherworld.

It was the trunk of the Tree of Life which represented the Word Pillar or the Axis of Munde around which the heavens appeared to revolve. The World Pillar was the centre of the universe.

The Sacred waters of Nun

On each of the corner towers are engraved 15 lines or layers. These lines or layers represent the 15 layers to the Sacred Mound. The Scared Waters of Nun are 5 layers form the top.

Furthermore the Sacred Waters are represented swirling around the front and side of the building, level with the top of the windows. This fresco is an integral part of the decoration encoding Ancient Egyptian mythology not only the watery abyss of the Netherworld but also the Great Flood, The River Nile and the Milky Way. The Milky Way is also known as the Celestial River Nile.

The Winged Disc

Above the main entrance in Dale Street is the Winged Disc. In Ancient Egypt the Wing Disc was a combined emblem of the sun and the double-headed cobra and eagle or vulture wings. More over it is an alternative form of the “temple” hieroglyph. The Cobra and Vulture represent Upper and Lower Egypt. Not just in the geographical sense but also in the sense of Celestial Egypt and a Terrestrial Egypt. The “as above so below” concept.

The combined emblem represents the Sun passing through the centre of the Winged Disk, the Sacred Gateway, into the next age of the Zodiac.

With in this engraving can be found the emblem of the Royal Arch Chapter: the Triple Tau in a triangle in a circle.

The Triple Tau

Double or triple Tau is the plural form of Tau. “Tau“ means “holy or sacred gate” or “holy or sacred opening”.

The triple Tau represents the Temple of Jerusalem. Another name for the Temple of Jerusalem is “Templum Hierosolma” which translates as “Temple on the Sacred Mound”. Since a Tau is a “sacred gateway”, opening or portal “and multiple Taus form a Temple, it follows that a Temple is a gateway to the Netherworld through which the sun rises at the Dawn of a New Age of the Zodiac.

In Ancient Egyptian mythology the Great Pyramid is also built on a Sacred Mound and like the Osirian Pillar, it represents the Axis Munde.

The Temple of Jerusalem as a Triple Tau, secure within the triangle of the Great Pyramid is displayed on the collar of the Royal Arch Mason. The Great Pyramid and the Temple of Jerusalem are symbolic of the Sacred Summit, the Axis Munde and the concept of Precession.

The Square and Compasses

Above the main door are the Square and Compasses. Today we would call the compasses dividers if they were used for measuring or assigning proportion.

With-out these tools it would have been impossible for the Ancient Egyptians to measure the rate of Precession accurately. Furthermore without the Plumb Rule used in conjunction with the Plumb Line they would have been unable to measure the position of the stars and their corresponding positions on the ground The constellation of Monoceros forms the Square and Compasses and the constellation Canis Minor is a Plumb Rule.

The Sacred Gateway

The main entrance into the Lodge Building has a strong revelation about the Ancient Egyptians. It can be immediately recognized as a Sacred Gateway the Gateway of the Sun, in Precession of the Ages of the Zodiac. It is flanked by 2 great pillars and above the door is “The All Seeing Eye” of Ra.

The All-seeing eye

The engraving of the All-seeing Eye is not unlike its Egyptian counterpart. The Main variation is that it has been Anglicized with an eye brow.

The Eye of Ra took on several guises in Ancient Egypt.

  • As the “Ouadjit
  • As the “Sun”
  • As a “dot with-in a circle”
  • As “The Watchful Eye”

As the “Ouadjit” it was a form of measurement. It is comprised of 6 hieroglyphs, each representing a different fraction. The sum of all the hieroglyphs is 63/64. The absolute is unobtainable.

This concept is related in the myth of Osiris. After he is cut up into 14 pieces by his jealous brother Set; Osiris’ sister/ wife Isis can only find 13 pieces of his dismembered body. The phallus remains lost for ever. Osiris was considered to be the Absolute, the First God. He was perfection. Others can only aim for the absolute, they will never achieve it.

As the “Sun”, the Eye of Ra was by the hieroglyph of “a dot with-in a circle”. Even today the Sun is sometimes referred to as “the eye of the day”.

As a “dot with-in a circle” the All-seeing Eye of Ra is a symbol of Precession. The “dot within a circle is the pole of the ecliptic, the central point of the revolution of the Signs of the Zodiac and the Ages of the Zodiac around the heavens, and as such is the Fifth Cardinal Point.

As “The Watchful Eye” the All-seeing Eye is considered in terms of humanity being under the complete surveillance of a Supreme Being. In Ancient Egyptian Times the Celestial Sphinx was the Supreme Being in the heavens.

The two Pillars

The porch way of the building is flanked by 2 pillars each supports a different version of a Globe. Around which are rows of pommy granites.

The First Pillar, which is on the RHS facing the entrance, is supporting the Celestial Globe. It is covered in large and small 5 pointed stars apparently randomly spaced and also small crescent moon on the top left side of the globe.

The Second pillar to the untrained eye could be plant earth complete with lines of latitude and longitude but no land masses and is symbolising Precession.

There are 12 celestial lines of longitude set at 30 degree intervals to accommodate the 12 Signs of the Zodiac.

When these grid lines or reference points are superimposed on the star studded celestial globe a picture is produce of the night sky @ 11:57 pm July 3rd 14000BC. To establish this date the lines longitudes are spaced at 15 degrees. The rate of Precession was calculated at 1 degree for every 72 years.

The Ancient Egyptian divided the sky into 12 equal 30 degree segments. Each segment contains a zodiac sign. Every 2160 years the Sun moves through a Sacred Gateway into a new Age of the Zodiac. On 21st Dec 2012 the sun will pass through the “Gate way of the Sun and rise in the new Age of Aquarius.

So what has been discussed?
We wanted to gaining some history of how the building was financed

We heard:-
This is the second Masonic building in Port Adelaide
The first built in 1881
This building built in 1928
Foundation stone laid by MW Bro Wendt
We heard about the early days of the trust and how the borrowed the money for the building up to 19607 pounds
Paid off in 1963

We wanted to identify who the building designer was:-
The building designer was VW Bro C W Rutt Past Master of St Peter Lodge
Other builds
Henley Beach Congregational Church
Henley Beach Town Hall
Burnside Town Hall
The Creswell Gate at Adelaide Oval

We wanted to gain an insight to the architectural style:-
Being built in the 1920 it style is called Art deco

We wanted learn what are the lines and shapes on the building exterior were:-
The shape of the building is an Egyptian Temple in the form of a Tau
The front of the building is in Dale Street
There several Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs i.e. temple, heaven
They can have various meanings
We discussed the 4 world pillars and the axis of Munde and The All-seeing Eye
We discussed the porch of the building and the Winged Disk
And we discovered that on 21st Dec 2012 the sun will pass through the “Gate way of the Sun” and rise in the new Age of Aquarius.

For more information go to the Legacy of the Ancient Egyptians by Audrey Fletcher Architect data base at unisa, art deco Australia
History of Craft Masonry in South Australia 1834 1934
Personal account written by Ray Guard.