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Freemasons Lodge St John No 84 in Mosgiel opened its doors to a curious public on Saturday.
The Freemasons "made good men better", district grand maser John Dennison said.
"A lot of people think we drink skulls of blood in here and have secret handshakes," he joked.
The Freemasons were one of the largest contributors to universities and hospitals in New Zealand, Mr Dennison said.
Freemasons had donated $370,000 a year for three University of Otago paediatric fellowships, financed GPS units to be installed in all 600 St John ambulances in New Zealand and recently gave $70,000 to the oncology department for cancer research, he said.
Grand director of ceremonies Alister Church explained the Freemason symbols of rank and office, which included lambskin aprons, collars, batons and wands.
A large silver G hung from the ceiling on a silver chain in the centre of the room, while the inside of the door was flanked with huge ornate golden pillars inscribed with symbols of the zodiac, inspired by the pillars outside King Solomon's temple.
Heavy red velvet drapes hung from walls and covered the rows of pews, and beautifully crafted wooden furniture decorated the room, while the walls were covered with glass display cases containing medals and masons' tools.
Nine people attended the open day.