Built between 1923 and 1925, the Allentown Masonic Hall was over a century in the making. The Masons have been a presence in Allentown since 1817 and the Masonic Hall has become their permanent home. The massive limestone and brick structure features over 65,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and is home to the Harry C. Trexler Masonic Library which is open to the public by appointment. Its various meeting halls feature themed interior designs that the temple’s 19 Masonic-related organizations meet in on a regular basis. The Masonic Temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
The first Masonic
organization in the Allentown area was Lodge Jordan No. 151, Ancient York
Masonry, which formed in 1817. It met at
the courthouse facilities within George Savitz’s Compass and Square Tavern located
at 7th and Hamilton Streets.
It was disbanded in 1836 and Barger Lodge No. 337 replaced it in
1859. As this lodge grew and other
lodges formed, the members discussed plans for a new Masonic Hall as early as
1911. In 1913 the Jordan Lodge reformed
and hosted former President William Howard Taft at their first banquet. As the Masons increased in prominence, they formed
the Masonic Temple Association in 1916 to raise funds and plan for a new, permanent
Association secured the services of Chicago architect, Richard Schmid, and the construction
firm of William Gangeware and Company.
Ground was broken in February of 1923 and the first Masonic organizations
arrived at the temple in 1925. Schmid
designed a traditional temple in the Neoclassical Revival design. Comprised primarily of Indiana limestone, the
temple features elaborate terra cotta and stone trim along its exterior. Its grand entrance utilizes wide steps,
decorative lamp standards and four composite fluted columns that support an
entablature 25 feet overhead. Schmid’s
designs also called for an adjacent theater, but it was never built.
interior, the Masons contracted with interior designer Gustav A. Beard. Beard designed each meeting hall differently,
at the behest of the Masons. For
example, in the entrance vestibule he utilized gray marble with a bronze
cornice along the ceiling. In the
Reception Room, Beard located a faux fireplace and large brass chandelier. The Commandery Asylum is decorated in a 16th
century Renaissance style and houses a stage and double Austin organ while the appropriately
named Renaissance Hall features a 15th century Italian design and a
large barrel arch with stained glass window.
meeting halls, to include the Egyptian, Gothic and Doric Halls, feature
upholstered benches, raised daises, pocket doors, and ornamental lighting. The temple also houses two large, basement banquet
halls that are divided by large folding doors and are supported by a large
commercial kitchen. These banquet halls
are available for rental. Currently, the
only space open for public use is the third-floor Harry C. Trexler Masonic
Library which is available by appointment only.
While the Masonic Temple is open for public tours only a few times a
year, there are plans to conduct more tours on a regular basis in the