Masonic Auditorium & Temple

San Francisco

Rock stars and conspiracy theorists alike are mysteriously drawn to the Masonic – a major concert venue and the Masons' main temple for California. Freemasonry venerates architecture and this 1958 structure captures that sense of awe with sublime mid-century-modern style. The marble lobby is graced with a massive stained-glass window depicting Freemasonry symbols alongside scenes from early California. For reasons known best to artist Emile Norman and California Masons, this 1958 modernist marvel contains fabric swatches and soil samples from across California.

The onsite museum focuses on California's Masonic history, and a peek downstairs reveals some of the society's intriguing secrets. If you're looking for confirmation that California is run by a secret club, here you have it: many of the nation's founding fathers were Freemasons, including George Washington, and the same can be said about California's founders. This venue has a magnetic quality, and top musicians and comedians are in rare form here – recent headliners include Van Morrison, Chelsea Handler, Aziz Ansari and Passion Pit. But the most culturally fascinating events happen here every other Tuesday, when the auditorium hosts mass US-citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.

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