After being on the road for almost two full months we've finally made our way home and I'm slowly catching up on some past stories that I missed.
The Waco Tribune-Herald highlighted the Grand Lodge of Texas' impressive headquarters in Waco back on January 11th. Their imposing granite Temple, built in 1948, was designed as a modernist depiction of Solomon's Temple on the exterior, based on then-current archeological theories of its style (which have varied wildly according to fantasies and winds of fashion for a thousand years).
This amazing 150,000 square foot Temple has a 3,700 seat auditorium and was built at least two decades after the greatest Masonic building boom in the U.S. during the City Beautiful movement of 1900-1929. According to the article it was designed by a team of Texas modernist architects that included Robert Leon White, who helped design the distinctive University of Texas Tower; Thomas Broad, who designed the Love Field Administration Building in Dallas; and Donald Nelson, who designed the Dallas Mercantile Bank building. The resident Waco architect was Walter Cocke Jr. Texas Masons spared no expense and lavished $2 million on it in 1948 (more than $23 million today):
From Grand Lodge of Texas an overlooked treasury of history, architecture by J.B. Smith:
The article also features WB Robert Marshall of Waco Lodge 92, who shows off the extensive Grand Lodge library and museum in the building.
An important aspect stressed in the article is the role of the Temple in the community of Waco - how it has been used in the past, and the importance it needs to retain in the future:
From Dayton Masonic Center gets upgrade and new focus as concert venue by Don Thrasher in the Dayton Daily News on Tuesday:
The points made in both articles cannot be stressed enough. If our most significant Masonic halls and temples are to survive and thrive in this age of shrinking interest in our fraternity, we need to remind our communities (and ourselves) that these were meant to be places for the public, too. Our predecessors were active civic participants and leaders - they built and grew our towns and cities; they founded, ran or worked at the local industries; and they contributed mightily to local charities and causes long before we became obsessed with national, industrialized charities on a massive scale. The temples were an extension of their insistence that Masonic ideals were transmitted to the public and infused their actions every day. Time after time, local citizens would comment when some project was funded or completed, "Oh, the Masons did that." Masonic buildings, like Masons themselves, made up the very fabric of our communities. It's long past time we took up that banner again. We can start by opening our halls and temples as meeting and gathering places for everyone.