October 5, 2013

Masons open their majestic spaces

Freemasons are opening their 102-year-old Masonic Temple to the public in an effort to raise money to preserve this spectacular but hidden architectural jewel.

by Tom Bell
Staff Writer

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Gordon Chibroski, Staff Photographer. The Bible sits on the alter in Corinthian Hall of the Masonic Temple in Portland. The hall is named for the Corinthian columns that grace the large room designed for major ceremonial meetings.

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The outside of the Masonic Temple on Congress Street shows grand proportions but little hint of the magnificence inside.

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The Corinthian Hall, on the third floor, is graced by a 20-foot-tall stained glass window, ornate columns and paneled ceilings.

Next door, Boody Hall is a smaller room, and feels like the throne room of a medieval king.

Portraits of former Mason leaders look down from a wall of the Scottish Rite Reading Room.

The Eastern Star Room, which was used by the women’s branch of the Masons, contains an enormous step ladder that has become a permanent part of the room because there is no other room big enough to store it.

Deb Andrews, who manages Portland’s historic preservation program, says the landmark building’s central location, historic features and massive rooms are attractive for public events, meetings and conferences. “It’s an extraordinary asset for the city.”

Bouchard says the Masons can’t restore the building by themselves.

“The idea of it falling into disrepair is heartbreaking,” she says. “It would show a failure of not just the Masons but the entire community if the building is not saved.”

When the temple was built, it was a social hub for the city, including the general public, Kahn says. Old photographs show that the hallway was filled with vendors selling goods from carts. Meals were open to the public in the dining room downstairs. During World War II, the USO held public dances in the armory. People played pool and cards.

“We want to reclaim that openness and welcoming of the general public,” Kahn says.

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:



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Additional Photos

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Employees of Blue Elephant Innovative Events & Catering set up the classic Scottish Rite Reading Room in the Masonic Temple for a function Friday. The room is one of many that are used to host events that bring in revenues.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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