Following a recent Daily Herald story detailing the mysterious Masonic symbols adorning Highland’s clock tower, the creator of the tower has stepped forward to explain.
If you want to understand the social culture of Highland, “don’t look at the political or voting maps,” said developer Randall Paul who lives in Highland. “Go down and look at the [LDS Church] ward maps, and then you will understand where people have their relationships.”
The local culture inspired the clock tower. Paul said he was fascinated, after moving to Highland years ago, to witness the mayor stop a city council meeting and ask the LDS stake president to weigh in on the issue at hand.
“It was blatantly honest, almost naively honest. They wanted the spiritual authority to weigh in,” he said. “It is almost quaint. It is a remarkable place to live.”
The clock tower overlooks the corner of Alpine and Timpanogos highways and was erected in 1994 as part of the development that now houses the Ridley’s grocery store and surrounding shops.
On the south side, just visible through the trees, is the emblem of the Masons, prominently hidden in plain sight. Surprisingly, the man who created the clock tower with Masonic symbols isn’t a Mason.
“No, I am not a Mason,” Paul told the Daily Herald. “But of course I have studied Masonry. I was very interested in the intersection of Masonry and Mormonism. I wanted that clock tower to represent a grounding orientation of both time and space, orienting my little town of Highland to the rest of the universe, so to speak. The other thing I wanted to do is give a cultural orientation.”
The Daily Herald’s original story and photo gallery about the clock tower, titled “Hidden in plain sight: Masonic Symbolism in Highland,” gave Paul “a shock of delight,” he said. “It was the first time in 20 years anybody noticed.”
He sees the symbols as representing Highland’s “super-majority of Mormon culture. I thought they would take a little delight in being reminded of their commitments when looking up at the clock tower.”
The clock is on the north side of Ridley’s grocery store, topped by an artistic weathervane.
There is no other place on earth like north Utah County, he said.
“Especially Highland,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent of the community was Mormon. That’s more than the Amish counties of Pennsylvania.”
At the base of the clock tower, etched in metal, are signs pointing the way to an enigmatic collection of places around the world — Disneyland, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Paris, and the uninhabited antipode Ile Saint Paul. Temple Square is the spiritual center of the world today for Mormons, but Adam-ondi-Ahman is where Mormons expect the “spiritual center of the future” to be, he said.
“It is a remote little spot outside Kansas City which Mormons believe is the original Garden of Eden, so if you are trying to orient yourself in time and space, that is the beginning of time and space. I could have said Garden of Eden on the plaque and had a little fun.”
Until now, why the destinations represented at the base of the clock tower were chosen had been a mystery. They include an eclectic mix: Paris, the Giza pyramids, and the Statue of Liberty.
“Paris is my favorite place in the whole world,” he said. “It earns a spot. Of course I put up Temple Square.”
Paul was raised a Mormon in New Jersey, where his father was the CEO of a Fortune 100 company.
“I was raised in the diaspora,” he said. He came to Utah to care for his mother and has stayed. He has worked in real estate for years and now runs the nonprofit Foundation for Religious Diplomacy.
The Mormon symbols are simply organic to Highland, and are not propaganda, he said. The Masonic symbols “are very sacred symbols to Mormons. It is part of the temple ceremony they engage in. They use those to remind them of commitments they have made.”
Among the great cities, sacred places, and the antipode marked by the clock tower, including Disneyland was done with a bit of humor. Although clock tower points the way to both Paris and the Pyramids of Giza, Paul said he is no fool. He knows where local families are most likely to pilgrimage.
“I have connected the tower to the Pyramids of Egypt, but what do they really care about? Disneyland, right? If residents have left the state, where have they gone? So I got a kick out of that being the only place they really care about: Disneyland.”
His own children are no exception, he said. He took his children to Europe when they were teens and was taken aback when they exclaimed with joy how much Europe reminded them of Disneyland.
“In America, the reality is Disneyland, and if it is like Disneyland, it is cool,” he said. Disneyland honors some of the great places of the world, but “now it is completely reversed. The real is Disneyland. The real is a copy. Out the mouths of babes.”
Paul also enigmatically chose to point the way to a tiny uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean called Ile Saint Paul which, according to Wikipedia, is one of three land antipodes of the contiguous United States. An antipode is a geographical location diametrically opposite another location. In this case, if you traveled straight through the planet from Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, when you came out the other side, you would be at Ile Saint Paul.
Why name Ile Saint Paul? The reference dates back to his own childhood, when his father would talk about drilling down to the other side of the earth to see what was there.
“I was a French missionary, and my last name is Paul, so when I found the antipode was the closest piece of land on the farthest part of the earth, well, I always thought it was quirky.”
He has not himself been to Ile Saint Paul, but he wants to visit.