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Masonic Lodge – Lake Lodge of Ophir – Queenstown

Mar 5, 2012

When visiting Queenstown consider viewing some of the historic buildings.  The Masonic Lodge – Lake Lodge of Ophir was one of the first permanent material buildings to be erected, in Queenstown and today it is the oldest Masonic Lodge building in New Zealand.  The foundation stone was laid in 1863.

Lake Lodge of Ophir was formally constituted on 18 July 1864 and the first initiations took place a week later. The name of the lodge derives from the Old Testament and refers to a fabled region of gold. As the only stone building in Queenstown for a number of years the lodge was a distinctive feature of the early town. It was also used by a number of other groups, including the Forresters Lodge. In return, after the major flood of 1878, when Lake Lodge lived up to its name, being three feet deep in water, the Masons held their meetings in the Foresters Lodge for a number of months.

Lake Lodge of Ophir is a simple rectangular stone building, set on a lakefront section. It was constructed from local schist collected from the water’s edge and beech culled from the head of the lake. At the time the foundation stone was laid the local newspaper stated that the ‘fair propositions, stern solidity and picturesque position of [the building] … will be an ornament to our town and a monument of our progress.’ Originally the interior was lined with tongue and groove panelling up to the dado rail and plastered above with a mixture of mud and horsehair. The upper wall was finished with a lime wash and the ceiling was canvas lined with paper. Raised sections run along the bottom of three walls and a freestanding organ, purchased in 1870, is located in the south-east corner. The lodge is lit through a skylight set at the apex of the roof, a form of lighting typical of Masonic lodges. This skylight opens into the wooden barrel-vaulted ceiling from which hangs the original rise and fall candelabrum. It is said that the light from the candelabrum, visible through the skylight, was also used, in early days as a navigational beam for boats on Lake Wakatipu.

Current Use: Civic facilities and recreation - Masonic Lodge

For directions to this historic building just ask one of our front line staff at the Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel.

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