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Masonic Temple
El Paso, Texas


Description: Masonic Temple
Other Names:
Address: 602 North El Paso Street at Missouri and Oregon streets, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: fraternal; lodge
Original Client: El Paso Lodge No. 130, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (A.F.& A. M.)
Date: 1912-13
Condition: demolished in 1968

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost; John J. Stewart, supervising architect
Contractors: Hewitt & Sons and Otto Kroger
Dimensions and Orientation: five stories with elevated basement and penthouse; 69 feet x 95 feet
Budget/Cost: $125,000

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: brick
Roofing Materials: composition
Other Materials Used: Bedford limestone entrance

Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (B-1) one pencil on tissue, preliminary drawing for Ponsford 193; (C-5) 45 ink on linen, drawings, 2 tissue, side, front and rear elevations, cross section (3 groups of plans; (C-6) 19 ink on linen revisions dated July 22, 1912; (M-10) 32 ink on linen revisions dated July 22, 1912; photographs of renderings of preliminary studies: Ponsford 193, 194, 311; (N-113) 1 sheet, pencil on tissue, perspective with entourage
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 312, main lobby; Ponsford 313, Eastern Star room; Ponsford 314, main lobby; Ponsford 315, Missouri Street entrance; Ponsford 316, perspective view.

Bibliography: (1) The American Architect and Building News, volume CI, number 1904 (June 19, 1912), Current News and Comment, page 16: El Paso Plans have been completed by Architects Trost & Trost for a new Masonic Temple to be erected on Missouri St. at a cost of $100,000.
(2) The American Architect and Building News, volume CII, number 1913 (August 21, 1912), Current News and Comment, page 16: El Paso Ground will shortly be broken for the erection of the new $125,000 Masonic Temple at corner of Missouri and El Paso Streets.
(3) The Western Architect, volume XX, number 2 (February, 1914), two unnumbered pages, plans, photograph of exterior and entrance detail(4) El Paso Herald Post, August 13, 1968, page 1-B (report on demolition of the Masonic Temple to make room for a high rise hotel)
(4) El Paso Herald, January 27, 1912 page 9

Remarks: On January 18, 1912, the deed was drawn for the transfer of the current Masonic building to the Popular Dry Goods company, to be converted into a department store. The price for the building was $230,000. At the time of the sale the Popular occupied the first and second floors.

The Masonic bodies included the Scottish Rite, the Knights Templar, Blue Lodge and other organizations. The plan was to erect two buildings. The Scottish Rite planned for a cathedral on Upson avenue, while the Masons planned for a massive stone temple in downtown.

In early February, the Masons purchased the lot opposite the Carnegie library. The following month the firm of Trost & Trost began to draw plans for the new Masonic temple to be erected by the Blue Lodge of El Paso. The temple was to be located at the corner of Missouri and North El Paso Streets. The cost to be $100,000.

Soon the demolition of the old Carnegie house began on the site for the new Masonic temple. The actual work on the temple was plan to begin in June.

At the end of May, the first set of plans were presented at the meeting of the Blue Lodge. The plans showed a four story, columned building of yellow pressed bricks with a lodge room, office rooms for the officials of the order and club rooms, The final approval for the plans came on May 28, with the next step asking for bids.

The bids that came in were still to high and there was a delay in the delivery of steel for the building. So the plans had to be revised from steel to reinforced concrete.

On July 18, the Masons met to decide between the two sets of plans from the building committee. The first set of plans reduced the height of the building from four stories, each 20 feet high, to three stories of equal height. This plan also showed a steel skeleton frame with brick facing. The second set of plans called for the temple to be built of concrete, thereby saving enough in construction cost to permit the fourth story. There was not enough Masons present to vote, so the decision was moved to the next meeting.

On July 19, 1912, the Masons decided that the new temple would be five stories with a elevated basement and penthouse. That each story would be 20 feet high. A number of the decorative features which were eliminated from the original plans were ordered replaced and the committee was given permission to expend $125,000. It was discovered that by substituting the concrete for steel that the original plans could be carry out at a more affordable price. The Masons of El Paso were determined that the new Masonic temple would be a credit to the city and the lodge. Bids were again asked for the construction of the temple.

The permits for the building of the temple were issued at the end of the month. Herwitt & Sons and Otto Kroger were the joint contractors on the building. The estimated cost $112,000.

On August 5, the building committee of the Masonic Lodge broke ground on the site. Tom Lea was to remove the first shovel full of earth which would be preserved as part of the record of the new temple. W.W. Evans the Master of the lodge removed the first shovel at the ground breaking ceremony.

By November all the framework construction was completed but the reinforcing steel had not yet arrived to the job site. The cornerstone block had been shipped from the quarry and was expected to arrive by the end of the month.

On Thanksgiving day, the cornerstone for the Masonic temple was laid. The ceremony was attended by other lodges from Las Cruces, Deming and some additional lodges in the southwest. A dinner was served in honor of the visiting guests.

In January of 1913, the steel was placed on the top of the Masonic temple. The steel work skeleton for the top story was used to eliminate all concrete columns from the main lodge room on the upper floors.

On February 15, 1913, the Blue Lodge began to move into the temple and a farewell meeting was held in the old temple.

The building was demolished in 1968 and the site was used for a Holiday Inn.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990