From the Northwest Indiana Times today:
The iconic 65,000-square-foot Gothic building that was once the hub of social activity for many Hammond residents met the claw of an excavator, driven by Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., clearing the way for the new Hammond Urban Academy.
McDermott said that while the red brick and limestone facade looks well preserved, it masks an interior that is beyond repair.
Tony Rodriguez, head Mason at the Garfield Lodge, said by the time they left the building in 1999, there already was significant water damage, and the ceiling was beginning to collapse in certain areas.
"It's a beautiful building," he said. "The massive cost of maintaining the building became overwhelming."
Garfield Lodge member Mark Schaade said the building was known for its massive auditorium and expansive ballroom, home to some of the city's biggest soirees.
From the Northwest Indiana Times over a year ago:
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.
For one photographer's album of the Temple's last days standing, see here.
This from Wednesday's Gary Post-Tribune:
The huge Freemason emblem on the southeast corner and the Shriners emblem on the southwest corner will be preserved, as will slabs of Indiana limestone shaped into arched doorways and windows and caps on two towers on the south facade and other spots on the building, said Joel Carney, project engineer with Amereco Engineering.