March 24, 1905: New Masonic Temple opens in Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1905, over 1,200 Masons along with their “wives, sisters, and sweethearts”—about 2,000 in all—attended the “housewarming” of the new Masonic Lodge at 4 West Second Street. Designed by J. J. Wangenstein (himself a Mason) the building was the new home to Palestine Lodge #79 and related Duluth lodges and replaced the Temple Opera Block as the mason’s home-base in Duluth. Its corner stone had been laid the previous August by the Masonic Grand Master of Minnesota, Duluth’s own William A. McGonagle. Speeches were delivered in the Blue Room and the Scottish Rite, a theatre where the 33 Rites of Free-Masonry were (and still are) acted out on stage as lessons for members earning their way up the masonic ladder. The event featured instrumentalists and singers, including an all-male quartet who performed while G. S. Richard displayed “stereoptical illustrations.” The singing was followed by a ball in the basement banquet hall with music provided by Flaaten’s Orchestra. The newspaper described the event as “the most enjoyable in social history of masons in Duluth.” During his address, McGonagle said “There seems to be an idea in the minds of many that Masons regard their lodge more highly then their church. This is untrue. Our location here is a most happy demonstration of this with two churches and a high school occupying the other two corners. The church comes first, the school next and the Masonic Lodge third completing the best that there is of civilization.” Both of the churches are now gone, and the high school is the school district’s administration building, but the Masonic Temple is still there and it is still an active masonic temple. Read a history of the building—and see some of its remarkable interior—here.

Duluth photographer Hugh McKenzie captured this image of Duluth’s 1905 Masonic Temple c. 1910. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)