Sunday, June 15, 2008


(Former) Springfield Masonic Temple - 6

I had a meeting in Springfield, Massachusetts the other day, and I gave myself a bit of extra time to drive by the Masonic Temple at 339 State Street to take some photos... I had seen a postcard view and was pleased to find that the place still showed up in the various searches I was doing online.

As the place came into view, I was literally awe-struck. The apartments of the Grand Lodge of New York were amazing in their own right, and the Worcester Masonic Temple is also a proud structure, but this was the first time that the edifice of any Masonic building I've seen in person had such an effect on me.

"My Brothers built this," I thought to myself, craning my neck to look at the huge, prominent square and compasses and stylized double-headed eagle prominently featured on the building's facade.

(Former) Springfield Masonic Temple - 8

What a testament to the pride and commitment of those Brothers in Springfield 85+ years ago, that they were willing and able to contribute and/or raise the substantial money that the place must have cost... some 86,000 square feet with four lodge rooms, a 1,500 seat auditorium, and a large banquet hall. $1,000,000 1924 dollars.

And guess what? They sold it in 2007. It's now the headquarters of the International Communion of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church. The linked article mentions declining membership and growing suburban Lodges as reasons that the building had become a "White Elephant," but it also says:
[Archbishop] Paul told BusinessWest that he intends to make the facility more of a community asset than it has been historically, with the probability that more groups can take advantage of its four large meeting rooms, 1,500-seat auditorium, and 800-seat cafeteria.
Why is the ICHCOC the first owner of the building to have that idea? Why weren't the auditorium and banquet hall being rented out all along? I'm sure the decision to sell the place was not made lightly or easily and I don't know any of the circumstances that led to it (I'm sure taxes on such a huge downtown property were outrageous, something the church probably won't have to worry about) but I admit that every time I read about lodges giving up their historic buildings I feel angry and betrayed that such amazing resources are being allowed to slip away. I don't think we will see such grand and elegant Masonic buildings erected in our lifetimes, if ever again. Certainly not on dues that haven't been adjusted for inflation since the 1950's.

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