Masonic Temple History

November 18, 2015
[Ridgewood Masonic Temple in

HistoricDetroit.org is working to get its own history of the Masonic Temple up. This history is from the Masonic Temple’s Web site, www.themasonic.com:

The development of the Detroit Masonic Temple is indicative of the growth and the strength of the Masonic Fraternity in this community.

The first move towards a suitable home for the Order in Detroit was made in 1891. In January of that year, the bodies occupying space over the old Wayne County and Home Savings Bank on West Congress Street appointed a committee to confer regarding the purchase of property and the erection of a temple which would accommodate the Lodges, Chapters, Council, Commanderies and the Michigan Sovereign Consistory. Several meetings were held by this joint committee in1891 and the early part of 1892. On March 16, 1892 representatives of Zion, Detroit, Union, Ashlar, Oriental, Schiller and Kilwinning Lodges, Monroe and Peninsular Chapters, Monroe Council, Detroit and Damascus Commanderies, and the Michigan Sovereign Consistory, held the first meeting of record at which time Michigan Sovereign Consistory was requested to place a valuation on the property which it owned on Lafayette Boulevard. At a meeting held March 23 of the same year, the Michigan Sovereign Consistory placed a valuation of $37, 500 on the 75 feet between Cass Avenue and First Street on Lafayette Boulevard, and generously offered to transfer this property to a new corporation to hold title to this property, where a suitable structure should be erected to house all Masonic Bodies, and agreed to accept therefor certificates of contribution. Thus we have the beginning of the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit. The above land was added to by the purchase of adjoining property, giving a total frontage of 150 feet on Lafayette Boulevard and a depth of 130 feet on First Street.

Committees were appointed to raise funds for the erection of this Temple. Complete plans and specifications, prepared by Mason and Rice, were formally adopted on December 3, 1892. A committee was appointed to wait upon the State Legislature to secure an enabling act to incorporate fraternal organizations, and on March 19, 1894 the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit was formally incorporated. In designing the Temple to be erected on Lafayette Boulevard and First Street, representatives then in charge of the activities, planned a structure, that in their opinion, would care for the needs of the Fraternity for fifty years to come. The various bodies moved into the Temple in 1896.

Notwithstanding the careful planning and wise devising of the committee, the Order outgrew the Lafayette Boulevard Temple in 12 years and in 1908 it was crowded to capacity. The growth of the Order had been so rapid that it was found necessary to place restrictions on the use of the dining room service, the assembly halls and other parts of the Temple. With the idea in mind of enlarging the Temple then in use, the Temple Association finally purchased 50 additional feet of land on Lafayette Boulevard from the Newland Estate and 16 feet from the Benevolent Order of Elks.

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