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The New Scientific Roets Offices

The Renovated Kokstad Masonic Hall Heritage Site.

Because of the link between Freemasonry and architecture, it seems appropriate that we share some history of the architecture and history of the Kokstad Masonic Hall, which is now categorised as a Heritage Site and which has been renovated and converted into the new Scientific Roets offices.

The Freemasons make use of architectural symbolism drawn from the medieval stone masons. When very few people were literate the use of symbolism was widespread. It was a form of visual shorthand which suggested abstract concepts. Symbols were easily recognized, and understood. It did not matter where one lived, one would recognise most, if not all, of the symbols, although there may have been some local variations. When a series of symbols were strung together (as with hieroglyphics) they could be used to tell stories and record history.

In Freemasonry the architectural symbolism includes concepts such as a foundation in God using the Square of Justice, the Plumb Line of rectitude, the Compasses to restrain the passion and the Rule by which to divide our time into labour, rest and service to our fellows.

According to the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act, 1997 (Act No. 10 of 1997) a "heritage resource" means any place or object of cultural significance including (a) places, buildings, structures and equipment, where "structures" are defined as any building, works, device, or other facility made by people and which is fixed to land and any fixtures, fittings and equipment associated therewith older than 60 years.

The cornerstone of the Kokstad Masonic Hall was laid on the 20th of March 1925 and became the new home of the Mount Currie Lodge of Free Masons which had originally been founded in 1889. Thus, in 2007 this building was 82 years old.

A Masonic Temple is sometimes referred to as a lodge. A lodge is sometimes defined as both a meeting place for Masons and the Masons who meet there. When the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages were being built, the stone masons had special, temporary buildings built against the side of the cathedral in which they met, received their pay, planned the work on the cathedral and socialized after work. This building was called a lodge. However, Freemasons correctly meet as a Lodge, not in a Lodge. In many countries Masonic Centre or Hall has replaced the term Temple to avoid arousing prejudice and suspicion.

The Kokstad Masonic building is protected as a heritage resource thus, permission was obtained to make certain alterations to the building, on condition that no changes would be made to the portico of the building.

The portico of this building clearly shows two of the principal symbols always found in a Masonic Lodge; the square and compasses. Some Lodges and rituals explain these symbols as lessons in conduct: for example, that one should "square their actions by the square of virtue" and to learn to "circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds toward all mankind".

The Masonic before renovation

The Masonic Square and Compasses. Found with or without the letter �G�
The square and compass symbols

No structural changes were made to the portico, however, it received a modern makeover.

The New Scientific Roets offices

There are two different theories regarding the origin of Freemasonry.

The first theory is that operative stonemasons who built the great cathedrals and castles, had lodges in which they discussed trade affairs. They had simple initiations for apprentices and fellows and, because there were no City and Guild certificates, dues cards or trade union membership cards, they adopted secret signs and words so that they could demonstrate that they were trained masons when they moved from one building site to another. In the 1600s these operative lodges began to accept non-operatives as 'gentlemen masons' who gradually changed these lodges into 'free' or 'accepted' Lodges.

The second theory is that the group who formed Freemasonry (in the late 1500s and early 1600s) were a group who were interested in the promotion of religious and political tolerance in an age of great intolerance. When differences of opinion on matters of religion and politics were to lead to bloody civil war. What they were trying to do was to make better men and build a better world.

At the time, the main means of teaching was by allegory and symbolism. Thus, they took the idea of building as the central allegory on which to form their system. The main source of allegory was the Bible, the contents of which were known to everyone, described even if they could not read, and the only building described in detail in the Bible was King Solomon's Temple, which became the basis of the ritual. The old trade guilds provided them with their basic administration of a Master, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary, and the operative mason's tools provided them with a wealth of symbols to moralise upon.

It seems likely that the origins of Freemasonry may be a mixture of both of these theories. Early Lodges often met in a tavern or any other convenient fixed place with a private room. According to Masonic tradition, the Lodge of medieval stonemasons was on the southern side of the building site, with the sun warming the stones during the day. The social (Festive Board or Social Board) part of the meeting is thus sometimes called the South. In this Masonic Building, the South has been converted into spacious offices with a mezzanine floor and a dappled, almost stellar ceiling.

The South before renovations

The South after renovations

The hexagrams that can be seen on each of the corner pillars on the outside of the building are symbols used in many religions. Most notably it may be recognized as the Star of David of Judaism. However, the hexagram is also important in Christianity (both Protestant and Catholic) as a symbol of love and trust by their God; in Islamic literature as the Seal of Solomon; in Hinduism it represents creation a mystical union between the downward pointing triangle Shakti - the sacred embodiment of femininity - and the upward pointing triangle symbolizing Shiva the focused aspects of masculinity; in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon religion) where it symbolizes the Tribes of Israel; and in Zionism where it is worn by members as a means or recognition.

Within the context of this Masonic Temple, the hexagons most probably refer to the Seal of Solomon since it is the Temple of Solomon on which most of the Freemasonic symbolism is based.

The hexagrams on the outside pillars

We invite you to enjoy the building not only for its architectural and historical significance in our town of Kokstad, but also for the services that our company bring to the community in capacity building, agricultural, engineering and enterprise development (See the new computerised Learning Centre below).

The old dining hall

Dining hall changed into Learning Centre

The entrance hall of the new offices