Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hammond, Indiana Temple To Be Demolished

Another magnificent temple will soon bite the dust. Hammond Indiana's Masonic Temple, affectionately known in the city as "the Grand Old Lady" will soon be demolished to make way for a new city charter school. Once home to blue lodges, the York Rite and the Shrine, the temple was abandoned in the 1990s.

From the Northwest Indiana Times:

The mammoth cornerstone to the ornately elegant three-story red brick building on Muenich Court was laid May 1, 1907, to great fanfare. Speaker for the day was none other than Charles Fairbanks, vice president under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1921, the Masonic Building Association enhanced the building to the tune of $440,000. By the 1970s, its replacement cost was estimated at $4.8 million. Today, it is estimated its restoration could top $20 million.

Patrick Swibes, chairman of the Hammond Historic Preservation Commission, said the building was once a candidate for preservation.

"The building has been terribly compromised over the last 12 to 15 years," Swibes said. "Once the roof goes, it lets water into the building, which disintegrates a building pretty quickly."

Swibes said most of the damage is to the theater. The stage in the building's enormous auditorium once showcased Shrine circuses, basketball games, theater plays, miniature golf and concerts.

One of Hammond's most ornate buildings, it is heavily customized with terra-cotta designs. The Muenich Court entryway contains leaded glass windows, glazed multicolored Egyptian heads and arched, hooded door surrounds.


Sadly, a look at the Masonic list in Indiana reveals surrounding that there are lodges in nearby Griffith, East Chicago, Gary, Highland and Schererville, but there are no Masonic lodges left in Hammond.

3 comments:

thehammergod said...

A shame for such a beautiful lodge to be lost, it must have been quite a thing to see back in its prime.

Mark said...

It is a shame to lose such a beautiful landmark. What comforts me is the thought that many men found light through its operative years. However, in the south we are making a comeback. Lodges are going up and so is attendance. There is hope!!!

Nathan Brindle said...

Griffith, of course, is one of the best examples of reuse of an existing building that I've ever seen. The building is a former Methodist church. The lodge room is in the former sanctuary, and simply has to be seen to be believed.