Ann Arbor Masonic Lodge Room 1885 - 1925, Third Floor North West Corner Main and Huron Streets. It became known as the Masonic Block.

Architects - McConkey & Rousseau
327 S. 4th Avenue - Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 1925 - original Construction - $324,000

  • 1973 - Replacement Costs - $1,496,714

  • 1922 - Cornerstone Laying - Grand Lodge of Michigan

  • Lot size - 132 ft. 154 ft. - 22 car parking with 2 municipals structures within one block

  • Building size - 127 x 255 - 5 stories

  • Perimeter - 386 ft.

  • Interior space - 665,502 cubic ft

  • Class B Fraternal Building -  prestige building built for impact as well as occupancy.  (Marshall & Swift Valuation) 

  • Structure: concrete beams and columns, concrete and clay tile walls, poured concrete floors, steel reinforcing.

  • Exterior Walls: Face brick over masonry.  Brick is laid up in stretcher bond but with decorative Masonic emblems.

  • Interior Walls & Ceilings: Original partitions are masonry walls and ceilings and are finished in plaster with Masonic decorative gold leaf trim.  Ceiling under roof is plaster on suspended methal lath.

  • Interior Features: Lobby and entry areas have Masonic decorative terrazzo flooring. Wash rooms are fitted with marble fixtures.

  • Five Floors - 20,000 sq. ft. - designed for Masonic functions Original building had entry Tyler's quarters.

  • Lobby - 1st floor - raised Masonic decorative ceilings 

  • Main Lodge - 65 ft. x 44 ft. - 2,860 sq. ft.

  • Chapter Room - 50 ft. x 35 ft. - 1,750 sq. ft.

  • 2 smaller lodge rooms -  902 sq. ft.

  • Dining Room - 100 capacity

  • Masonic Library - 374 sq. ft.

  • Board Room - 238 sq. ft.

  • Women's Lounge - 438 sq. ft.

  • Boiler Room - 252 sq. ft.

  • Masonic Brass fittings throughout structure

1977: After a 3 year Federal “Eminent Domain” Law Suit court battle, the USA Government narrowly prevailed.  The Federal Government was required to pay $204,000 of which $80,000 was deducted to raize the Temple on behalf of the US Government. In other words, the Masons had to put settlement money up to demolish their former Temple. The $120,000 figure was one third of a M.A.I.  appraisal by The Gerald Alcock Company of Ann Arbor. Federal Judge Charles Joyner of Detroit gave no value to the Masonic Temple structure, definitely one of the finest 1920's art deco architectural masterpieces in the City of Ann Arbor. The City Council and Mayor wanted the Federal Building and cleared away the political hurdles by allowing all structures in the 4th Avenue and Liberty Rd. block to be removed; all these properties were removed from the property tax rolls.  The $120,000 net figure to the Masons bought 4.65 acres of land and started construction of a modest 7,200 sq. ft. Temple building at 2875 W. Liberty Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103.   

  • Article from Ann Arbor News September 4, 1975. Masonic Temple Being Demolished - Download this article here -

Eminent Domain, the right of government to seize private property, was written into the U.S. Constitution. But so too was the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which said that property could be taken only for public use, and on condition that its owners be justly compensated. In recent years, however, local governments, seeking to draw business and development into primarily residential neighborhoods, have increasingly invoked their power of eminent domain to seize houses and put the land they sit on to private use -- an expansion of the power that many legal experts deem unconstitutional. And so, all across the country, legal battles are being fought between homeowners on one side, and cities, developers and businesses on the other.

Photos & Data:  Gerald V. Alcock, M.A.I. - Ann Arbor, Michigan 1973 . Two first photos Anonymous. Photos of AA Masonic Temple at 2875 W. Liberty: Mitchell Ozog, 8/27/2005.

327 S. 4th Avenue - Ann Arbor, Michigan

From Bro. Tom Jameson:

I've been a Mason since 1956 and joined Golden Rule Lodge #159 in 1960, so I was privileged to have been here for a few years when the downtown temple was standing. I wish I could have seen it in its full splendor, before the lower floors were chopped up to accommodate renters. We have been told that the magnificent auditorium on the first floor was the site of many extravaganzas, including at one point even a circus, with a live elephant on stage. The pipe organ in the fourth floor Masonic Hall, which I played on occasion, was disassembled, stored in pieces for several years and later reassembled and is in use at the Northside Community Church on Barton Drive.
               

Masons Will Miss Temple (Ann Arbor News 1973)

When the Masonic Temple is razed to make way for a new federal building, as seems likely, there will be a tug at the heartstrings oí many Ann Arborites besides the Masons, for whom the building has been symbol and home since 1925. The public may recall three seasons, 1954 through 1957, when the Dramatic Arts Center turned the auditorium and adjacent rooms into a center of drama, ballet, dance, symphony and art. The Junior Theatre was born there, and several well known doctors and musicians performed there, among them James Coco, , Sydney Walker and Marian Mercer. Theatrical events ceased at the temple after the Bendix Aviation Corporation leased the building's first floor in 1956 and quickly expanded into the auditorium. Office partitions cubicled the floor space and panels cut off the narrow balconies, but the decorative hanging lights, which repeat the Masonic motifs of the exterior of the building, remained and hung ghost-like in the open space that loomed over the temporary offices. After Bendix moved out in 1964, the temple saw a succession of renters, among them the Juvenile Court for three years and the Washtenaw Children's Aid Society. A few offices are still housed on the main floor, but the rest of the rented space remains empty. Masonic activities, which in the old days occupied the entire building, gradually w i t h d r e w from the ball room auditorium-banquet hall and from the third floor game rooms, to the fourth floor lodge rooms where they remained. The large lodge meeting room on the fourth floor is preserved nearly as il was in the 1920s with its enormous dark leather and wood throne like chairs and benches, tables with massive legs and large floor candelabra. Still an imposing and serene if somber Victorian room, it is the one that Masons will doubtless miss the most, however nice their new quarters, because it is associated with so many of their ceremonies. The three lodges that use the building, Golden Rule Lodge No. 159, Fraternity Lodge No. 262 and Ann Arbor Lodge No. 544, meet at the temple but hold their large dinner dances at the Grotto Club of Ann Arbor. Commandery groups, Eastern Star, White Shnne of Jerusalem, Order of Rainbow and Order of Demolay also make use of the Masonic Temple building for their activities. The total membership of all these groups is around 1,500 with some overlapping. "We're sorry to lose the building," said Bob Sevebeck, president of The Ann Arbor Masonic Temple Corporation, "but all things have to give way lo progress." "The Masons have experienced increasing difficulty in obtaining renters for the building. There is only one elevator, and a large amount of interior space is devoted to the two-story high auditorium. The building has simply outlived its usefulness." The cost of operation has made the building expensive in recent years, Sevebede added. Masonry began in Ann Arbor on February 26, 1827, when the Western Star Lodge 6 was chartered. It met in the John Allen tavern, a log cabin on the northwest corner of Main and Huron Sts. A second Masonic organization was founded here in 1847 and a third in 1857. The Golden Rule Lodge was the fourth Masonic organization in Ann Arbor and it held its meetings above the Oriënt Tavern at 215-270 S. Main. In 1886 the Masons transferred their meeting place to the top floor of the three-story brick St. James Block on the northwest corner of Huron and Main Streets. Later called the Savings Bank Building, it was most recently known as the Municipal Court Building. It housed a jewelry store and several professional offices when it burned in a $500,000 fire on November 10, 1971. The structure remains were razed and the lot is temporarily being used as the Ecology Center's downtown park. The Masons began planning their own building in 1910, but fund drives and pledges had to be put aside during World War I. The project was renewed in 1919. The Masonic Temple was designed by George McConkey, a professor of architecture at the University of Michigan and a Mason. The cornerstone was laid June 28, 1922, and the event was marked by a parade and gala dinner. The building was dedicated on February 27, 1925. Fund raising to pay for the building and its upkeep continued throughout the years until the building was finally paid off in 1948, just about the same time the lodge membership began to level off and start to decline. There were an estimated 3,000 members of the lodges in 1957. Both the Masons who built the temple and the Dramatic Arts Center that filled its rooms with the arts had high hopes for the building. The Masons enjoyed many solemn and gala events there. The DAC offered some first-rate cultural fare to the public. The DAC's dream of turning the temple into a thriving civic cultural center, however, never was achieved. In their day Ann Arbor's Civic Theatre, Civic Symphony, Civic Ballet and Junior Theatre all performed there. The hope was to unite all these organizations plus the Ann Arbor Art Association under a small professional staff of four or five actors and a technical and artistic director. Many lucal people contributed to Ihe effort to conven the auditorium into an arena stage. Eugene Power, Burnette Staebler and Richard Mann all served as presidents of the group when it was housed at the temple. The DAC continued to sponsor the dramatic arts and musical performances of the ONCE group until 1969. The Junior Theatre is now sponsored entirely by the Recreation Department. DAC was influential in starting t h e University's Professional Theatre Program in the early 1960s. The Masons are presently considering a new site for their activities, so for them the razing of the building will mark another milestone on their 14fi-year local road. But for the Dramatic Arts Center participants it will recall a dream that began to end with the group's final performance of "Medea" at the temple in February 1957.

Temple building at 2875 W. Liberty Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103. - Graphic By Hill Building Co. 12-27-1976

Photos By Mitchell Ozog 2005

Masons at the Crossroads The ancient fraternity sells its temple by Robert Blackburn, PM

Fraternity and History The Past And Present Of Ann Arbor Fraternity Lodge No. 262 by Sean S. Dykhouse, PM

 

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