Whether you love to watch tense thrillers like The Da Vinci Code or exciting capers like National Treasure, you've probably heard of the Freemasons. This secret society (still the world's biggest one) traces its roots back to medieval guilds of stone masons.
Today the masons aren't as powerful or well known as they once were, but they've left a few traces of their history across the globe, waiting to be discovered.
1. The German Masonic Home of Tappan
From the outside, this crumbling building in Tappan, New York looks like any other, but it's hiding a secret. Sick and elderly Freemasons would move here to retire, along with their widows and children. The building was abandoned in the '80s, but remains standing. Maybe the masons have some unfinished business with it.
2. House of the Temple
Tourists visiting the nation's capital may wonder what this building just a mile north of the White House is for. In fact, it was built by a group of Scottish-American Freemasons to host their secret rituals, and based off one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. It was also Washington's first public library, and it's still open to visitors today.
3. The Morgan Monument
This statue wasn't built by the masons, but it's connected to them in frightening and mysterious ways. It shows Captain William Morgan, who threatened to publish a book about the masons and their secrets after they cancelled his membership.
Morgan was abducted and never seen again, and the draft of his book disappeared. The Morgan Monument was put up in a cemetery near the place he vanished from to warn the masons their behavior wouldn't be tolerated, but it's also a scary reminder of the power they once had.
4. The Philadelphia Masonic Temple
Members know this as the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Juridiction Thereunto Belonging - say that 10 times fast! This chapter is actually older than America (it was founded in the 1730s), and every one of the temple's gorgeous rooms has a mistake - a reminder that no man is perfect.
Click to the next page to learn about the Freemasons' connection to the Statue of Liberty!