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St. John's Masonic Temple Registered Heritage Structure

Masonic Temple, St. John's, NL
Masonic Temple, St. John's, NL
Masonic Temple, St. John's, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Description of Historic Place

The Masonic Temple is a three storey brick building located at 6 Cathedral Street, St. John’s, NL. Built between 1894-1896 and inspired by Classic Revival design, the Masonic Temple is the largest brick fraternal meeting hall in the province. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Masonic Temple was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1995 because of its aesthetic, historic and cultural value.

The Masonic Temple has aesthetic value as it is the most architecturally impressive fraternal lodge in Newfoundland and Labrador, utilizing many Classical Revival motifs, including pilasters, free-standing columns and multiple pediments. It also has the distinction of being the largest brick fraternal meeting hall in the province and as such is a fine example of brick and lime mortar construction. It holds a unique place in the architectural history of the province and stands as an important example of Victorian lodge construction. The interior is as equally impressive as the exterior, with detailed woodwork, decorative plaster and ornate ceiling details.

The Masonic Temple has historic value due to its association with the Freemasons, an internationally known fraternal organization. Masons in Newfoundland received their first warrant in 1746. In St. John’s, their first permanent home was located at Long’s Hill. When this structure was destroyed by fire, plans were quickly drawn to construct a new building, the present Masonic Temple. Sir William Whiteway, longest serving prime minister of the colony of Newfoundland, laid the cornerstone of the new building on August 23, 1894. Masons who met at this location included many notable citizens, such as politicians and businessmen, who played significant roles in the political and economic growth of the developing colony.

The Masonic Temple has cultural value as it is a physical reminder of a time when fraternal organizations played a significant role in the city of St. John’s. Membership in such organizations was sought after by men of certain standing. Their pride in their affiliation with the Masons is reflected in the use of Masonic symbolism on both the interior and exterior of the Masonic Temple. From its commanding position, such symbolism speaks directly to Masons and indirectly to other citizens who may not know the exact meaning of the symbols but realize the associations with Freemasonary.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “St. John's - St. John's Masonic Temple - 1419”

Character Defining Elements

All those design features reflective of the Classical Revival style, including:
-three towers on front facade;
-pediments on towers;
-pilasters on towers;
-transom windows on side towers;
-columns and rounded arch on upper central tower;
-pilasters and rounded arch on upper central tower; and,
-heavy cornice belt course.

All those features reflective of the age and construction of the building, including:
-original roof type;
-number of storeys;
-brick exterior;
-stone foundation;
-sandstone detailing;
-eaves brackets on centre tower
-window materials, size, style, trim and placement;
-size, style, trim and placement of exterior doors and thier original, traditional materials;
-use of decorative bronze;
-entrance on centre front facade; and,
-dimension, location and orientation of building;

All those features reflective of Victorian-era Masonic Lodge construction, including:
-one storey Corinthian columns and capitals with globes on main entrance;
-original interior woodwork, trim, detailing and plasterwork;
-original main staircase;
-Masonic symbols on centre tower;
-wording “Masonic Temple” on centre tower;
-plaque on left tower;
-interior Masonic decoration and insignia;
-repeated use of arch motif throughout the interior;
-layout of the upper floor lodge rooms; and
-original cornerstone.

Location and History

Community St. John's
Municipality City of St. John's
Civic Address 006 Cathedral Street
Construction 1894 - 1896
Builder
Bohm
Style Classical Revival
Building Plan Square
Website Link http://www.spiritofnewfoundland.com/