"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hammond, Indiana Temple Demolished

The Hammond, Indiana Masonic Temple is being demolished today, 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 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.


  1. Sadly, not only our physical temples are crumbling, but in some cases our spiritual ones as well.

    One of our District Deputies commented to me recently that everyone seems to be waiting for some unknown "white knight" to ride in an save the craft. The "white knight" you are waiting for is staring back at you in the mirror every morning.

    Rededicate yourself to living everyday the principles of Masonry. Each of one of us is the change we seek for our craft. If you first learn to lead yourself, then you can lead others. You then start to become the "white knight" you are looking for.

    By saving our crumbling spiritual temples we will then save our physical ones as well.

    Mike Clevenger, PM
    New England Lodge #4 F&AM
    Worthington, Ohio

  2. It is so sad to see yet another of the great Masonic Temples being torn down. Our forefathers spent so much of their time and money to leave these great temples to us and we just walk away from them. I have spent 32 years working to save a large temple and can not understand someone just walking way. Sad indeed.
    Russ Spice
    Detroit Michigan

  3. My grandfather was past master there, and even lived on premises. The fun we had as children roaming through the halls , looking at the beautiful decorations! Although, I was deathly afraid of the kernance( furnace) in the basement. Some of the most beautiful furniture I had ever seen filled these rooms, my cousin actually restored a table from the building. We had family dinners there. So many memories.

  4. I grew up in this building in the late sixties early seventies, my grandparents basically watched me while my mom worked. My grandparents lived on premises for many years.My grandpa was O.R.A.K and my grandma was Eastern star, both were president or whatever they call them,master or matron? I have such memories of running through the halls and looking at all the beautiful furniture and all the furnishings and the woodwork, and all the marble and the stained glass. It reminded me of a castle. It was so sad to come back from Florida and see it being demolished. And now as I sit here across the street from Hammond high School I see another part of History being demolished.


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