Without any question of doubt, the Masonic Temple at the corner of North Washington Avenue and Johnson Street takes the lead as the most imposing fraternal structure in the city.
"It is a handsome red brick and stone building, four stories in height, completely equipped for the work of all of the Masonic bodies on the east side. It also has an auditorium capable of seating 1200 people. The structure completely equipped cost close to $175,000 and is a magnificent testimony to the energy and progressiveness of the fraternity.” From: Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A., 1857 – 1907: Semi-Centennial Souvenir
Our New Year’s Eve post prompted several people to share their memories of Saginaw’s East Side Masonic Temple. The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History’s collection includes a partial set of blueprints for the building. Saginaw architect William T. Cooper was the structure’s designer.
Located on North Washington Avenue at Johnson Street, the East Side Masonic Temple was demolished in January 1969 to make way for the Saginaw Civic Center- now known as the Dow Event Center. The cornerstone was laid with great ceremony on August 14, 1891. The event included a parade of an estimated 2,500 people.
“It was not long until the exterior work on the imposing building was finished and it became a prominent feature of one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Architecturally, it was said to be a combination of Modern, Gothic, and Romanesque.”
Saginaw News Courier, July 27, 1924.
(Architectural historians might not completely agree with this description of the building’s style.)
The facility was formally dedicated on February 27, 1893; however, the public had a sneak preview of the new building when it opened for a Masonic Fair – at a special fundraising event. On June 20, 1892, The Saginaw Evening News proclaimed “everything will be in readiness throughout for the throngs of visitors who are expected and the event gives promise of excelling any previous affair of the kind ever held outside Detroit.” The fair was a great success and raised the funds required to complete the building.