by Kevin Walsh

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.

Much more from 125th Street

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



april April 15, 2020 - 4:20 am

My dad belonged for 40 years, paying monthly dues he thought would also pay for his burial plot. When the day came, news that he had no such property almost buried me. Funniest thing though, they claimed they knew my dad well. He hadn’t gone to one meeting other than the first. I guess those dues helped keep the organization running — running from their original premise (vs. promise).

redstaterefugee April 15, 2020 - 10:41 am

What does a convicted sex offender like Anthony Weiner know about loyalty or friendship? You really didn’t have to mention him; he’s earned his infamy.

Kevin Walsh April 16, 2020 - 10:36 am

I just provide info and don’t do political angles.


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