Detroit Masonic Temple

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Detroit Masonic Temple
Detroit Masonic Temple - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Location 500 Temple Street
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°20′29.11″N 83°3′36.56″W / 42.3414194°N 83.0601556°W / 42.3414194; -83.0601556Coordinates: 42°20′29.11″N 83°3′36.56″W / 42.3414194°N 83.0601556°W / 42.3414194; -83.0601556
Built 1922
Architect George D. Mason
Architectural style Gothic Revival
Governing body Detroit Masonic Temple Association
Part of Cass Park Historic District (#04001580)
NRHP Reference # 80001920
MSHS # P25067
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 11, 1980
Designated MSHS January 24, 1964

The Detroit Masonic Temple is the world's largest Masonic Temple.[1] Located in the Cass Corridor of Detroit, Michigan, at 500 Temple Street, the building serves as a home to various masonic organizations including the York Rite Sovereign College of North America.[2] The building contains a variety of public spaces including three theaters, three ballrooms and banquet halls, and a 160 by 100 feet (49 m × 30 m) clear-span drill hall.[3] Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, Handball court, gymnasium, bowling alley, and a pool hall. There are also numerous lodge rooms, offices, and dining spaces as well as a hotel section, 80 rooms total, available to any noble of the mystic shrine or blue lodge mason, none however in usable condition currently. The Masonic Temple Theatre is a venue for concerts, Broadway shows, and other special events in the Detroit Theater District. Architect George D. Mason designed the theatre,as well as the whole structure which contains a 55-by-100-foot (17 m × 30 m) stage, one of the largest in the country.

Detroit Masonic Temple was designed in the neo-gothic architectural style, using a great deal of limestone. The ritual building features 16 floors, stands 210 feet (64 m) tall, with 1037 rooms. It dominates the skyline in an area known as Cass Corridor, across Temple Street from Cass Park, and Cass Technical High School. It is within walking distance of the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

History[edit]

The Masonic Temple Association was incorporated in Detroit in 1894. It moved into its first temple, on Lafayette Boulevard at First Street, in 1896. Outgrowing these quarters, the Association purchased land on Bagg Street (now Temple Avenue) to build a new temple that would also include a public theater. Fund-raising for construction of the building raised $2.5 million, and ground-breaking took place on Thanksgiving Day, 1920.[4] The cornerstone was placed on September 19, 1922, using the same trowel that George Washington had used to set the cornerstone of the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.. The building was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1926.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium originally had a capacity of 5,000. Due to poor sight lines along the sides of the stage, nearly 600 seats were removed (or never used), reducing maximum seating to 4,404.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980,[5] and is part of the Cass Park Historic District, which was established in 2005.[6]

In April 2013, the building was reported to be in foreclosure over $152,000 in back taxes owed to Wayne County.[7] The debt was paid off in May 2013, and in June 2013, it was revealed that $142,000 of the bill was footed by singer-songwriter Jack White, a Detroit native known for his work with The White Stripes. He wanted to help the temple in its time of need as they had helped his mother in a time of need: the temple gave her a job as an usher in the theater when she was struggling to find work. In response, the Detroit Masonic Temple Association renamed its Scottish Rite cathedral the Jack White Theater.[8][9][10]

Architecture[edit]

The Detroit Masonic Temple is the largest Masonic Temple in the world since 1939, when the Chicago Masonic Temple was demolished. The stage of the auditorium is the second largest in the United States, having a width between walls of 100 feet and a depth from the curtain line of 55 feet.

The large complex includes a 16-story 210-foot (64 m) ritual building connected to a 10-story wing for the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly known as Shriners by the 7-story Auditorium Building. In between these areas are a 1,586-seat Scottish Rite Cathedral, and a 17,500-square-foot (1,630 m2) drill hall used for trade shows and conventions. The drill hall is also home to the Detroit Derby Girls.[11] The drill hall has a floating floor, where the entire floor is laid on felt cushions. This type of construction, also known as a sprung floor, provides 'give' to the floor which tends to relieve the marchers.

The building houses two ballrooms: the Crystal Ballroom and the Fountain Ballroom which measures 17,264 square feet (1,603.9 m2) and accommodates up to 1,000 people. There is also an unfinished theatre located in the top floor of the tower, that would have seated about 700.

There are seven "Craft Lodge Rooms," all with different decorative treatments, the motifs of decoration being taken from the Egyptian, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Italian Renaissance, Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque styles. All of the artwork throughout the building, especially the decorated ceilings was done under the direction of Italian artists. There is also a Royal Arch room, and a Commandery Asylum for the Knights Templar.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral has a seating capacity of 1600. Its stage is 64-feet wide from wall to wall, with a depth of 37 feet from the foot lights.

Architect George D. Mason designed the theatre, which contains a 55-foot (17 m)-by-100-foot stage. Detroit Masonic Temple was designed in the neo-gothic architectural style, and is faced with Indiana limestone.[4] Although there are few Masonic buildings in the Gothic style, the architect believed that Gothic best exemplified Masonic traditions.[4]

Much of the stone, plaster and metal work in the interior of the building was designed and executed by architectural sculptor Corrado Parducci. The three figures over the main entrance were by Leo Friedlander, while the rest of the considerable architectural sculpture on the exterior was by Bill Gehrke.

Gallery[edit]

Architectural details

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alex Lundberg, Greg Kowalski: Detroit's Masonic Temple, Arcadia Pub., 2006.
  2. ^ "York Rite Sovereign College of North America". YRSCNA. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  3. ^ "Facilities". The Masonic Temple Detroit. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Zietz, Karyl Lynn (1996). The National Trust Guide to Great Opera Houses in America, p. 103. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  6. ^ "Cass Park Historic District". Michigan's state historic preservation office. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  7. ^ Aguilar, Louis (25 April 2013). "Detroit's Masonic Temple in foreclosure". The Detroit News. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Gallagher, John (June 4, 2013). "Mystery solved: Jack White paid Masonic Temple back taxes, theater to be renamed". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  9. ^ "Jack White pays Detroit Masonic Temple's tax bill Detroit". Associated Press. June 4, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-04. 
  10. ^ "Jack White pays tax bill to save historic Detroit property". The Marquee Blog. CNN. June 5, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  11. ^ "Tickets for Individual Bouts". Detroit Derby Girls. Retrieved 2013-06-05. Unless otherwise noted, all DDG home events will take place at the Masonic Temple – Detroit 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson. Architectural Sculpture in America. unpublished. 
  • Lundberg, Alex and Greg Kowalski (2006). Detroit's Masonic Temple. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 073854034X. 
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 
  • Masonic Temple Association of Detroit (1926). Masonic Temple: A.D. 1926, A.L. 5926. 32-page pamphlet. OCLC 23367822. 

External links[edit]