It’s a “pythy” at 54B East 125th just off Madison, which is an 1891 Knights of Pythias hall. It wraps around the corner and also fronts on Madison. The Knights moved out decades ago. Another one of their former buildings is an Art Deco masterpiece on West 70th Street off Central Park.
The fraternal organization Order of the Knights of Pythias was instituted in 1864 by Justus H. Rathbone and was actually the first such organization to be granted a charter by the US Congress. The name was inspired by the story of Damon and Pythias, an old story of loyalty: in ancient Syracuse, Pythias was accused of plotting against a tyrant, Dionysus I, and sentenced to death. Wishing to return home to settle affairs, Pythias entreatied the tyrant to allow him to do this, but, of course, believing Pythias would not return, Dionysus refused. Damon offered to take his place, and Dionysus relented on the provision that if Pythias did not return by the day agreed upon, Damon would be killed instead.
On execution day, Pythias arrived at the nick of time, explaining that pirates had captured his ship, he jumped into the sea and swam and ran to Syracuse to make his appointment. Dionysus, so impressed by the pair’s show of loyalty, spared both.
The Knights of Pythias claims over 50,000 members worldwide; Presidents McKinley, Harding and FDR have been members; N.Y. Senior Senator Charles Schumer and U.S. Reps. Anthony Weiner and Peter King are/were also Knights of Pythias.