Folk Art Model Temple

circa. 1887



Treasures of the Temple

     While recently cleaning and reorganizing the display cases at the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania, a unique and incomparable piece was “rediscovered.”  Purported to be of French origin, the piece is a “Model Temple,” 9” in height, formed mainly of silk and metallic threads, situated on a 14 ½ x 17 ¼” wooden base and protected by a glass encasement.  The Masonic symbolism is immediately apparent in the exterior of this finely-wrought piece: The two columns at the front of the Temple, possibly representing Jachin and Boaz; the black and white mosaic “tiles” of the floor; the square and compass over the doorway; and the word “Jehovah,” in Hebrew, in the pediment.  Upon further examination, it was discovered that the roof of the Temple could be removed completely allowing a thorough inspection of the interior. 

     The true skill of the craftsman is now apparent, as no detail has been overlooked.  The underside of the roof is domed and decorated with blue embroidery and many golden stars.  Black and white mosaic tiles also adorn the interior floor of the Temple.  Three steps lead to a Masonic altar, decorated with the square and compass.  In this tiny space, the craftsman found a way to leave his mark on the piece.  On the back wall there is a small oil painting; it depicts the eruption of Mount Vesuvius over the ruins of Pompeii.  The painting is only 2 ¼ x 3”, yet it manages to convey the majestic power of the erupting volcano in vibrant colors.  The signature of F. de Pauw and a date of 1887 is visible in the lower left hand corner of the painting. 

     Up until this point, there was no certainty regarding the maker and age of this piece.  There is a small brass plaque on the wooden base that reads “F. de Pauw 32,” but there was no way of determining what relationship, if any, that F. De Pauw had to the piece.  Now, after finding the same name signed on the painting inside the Temple, it can be said with some certainty that F. de Pauw was the craftsman of the piece.  To celebrate its rediscovery and 125th birthday, the piece will be displayed more prominently in the museum, so all may be able to examine for themselves the wonderful details of the Model Temple.


A special "Thank You" to Laura Libert for submitting the pictures and description of this wonderful Model Temple.  Her article originally appeared in the Pennsylvania Freemason magazine.  (Click Here) to visit the Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.




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