Thursday, October 27, 2005

The New Masonic Temple

October 2006 is the 80th Anniversary year of
The New Masonic Temple of Saint Louis
Master Masons of Missouri please attend!

Check out the TV New Story from "Show Me St. Louis" on KSDK Channel 5!

3681 Lindell Boulevard
Saint Louis, Missouri 63108

The New Masonic Temple was dedicated October 26, 1926. It contains over six million cubic feet of space, is 185 feet high, equivalent to a fourteen story building housing a ground floor and 6 1/2 upper floors. Today it sits directly across the street from Saint Louis University and is a prominent feature on Lindell Boulevard right next to the Scottish Rite building.

This is a handcrafted structure filled with art treasures including historic stained glass windows, ornamental marble components and furniture much of which was hand crafted by Master Craftsmen.

The New Temple : An Architectural Treasure

The traditional temple, in ancient times, was frequently placed upon a high cliff, or platform, of natural rock. Often the rocky exposed surface was faced with cut stone and then built up to form a level terrace on which the temple building was erected. The Acropolis at Athens and the Temple of Solomon illustrate such an ancient temple form.

Architects for the Masonic Temple based their design on that concept to build an artificial platform, or terrace, which would house some of the halls, or apartments, in the proposed Temple building. Architectural expression was given the first two stages of the Temple as platforms, or terraces, using balustrades with appropriate moldings instead of cornices.

Original instructions required that the proposed Temple be monumental in character and be so constructed to last into future generations. There was no known precedent for a fourteen story Temple. The ancient traditional temple was always a single story building. As a consequence, the Architects studied classic forms in Greece and Rome. Gothic forms and modernist styles were considered and the Grecian model was chosen.

The design of the exterior of the Temple is classic Ionic Greek architecture. Its lines are simple and its masses are substantial. Its proportions are towering and its monumental size makes it conspicuous from all directions.

Facing on all four sides of the Temple is Bedford stone. The trim around the building is gray Chelmsford granite. Entrance doors and exterior decorations are of bronze.

In ancient times, it was customary to adorn the walls of temples with trophies made from bronze shields of the enemy captured in war. That practice suggested the use of bronze discs on the frieze and walls of the second platform. Those discs bear the Masonic emblems, or insignia, of the Masonic bodies for whose use the Temple was erected.

Built in three receding stages, emblematic of the three stages in Freemasonry, it is reminiscent of primitive temple architecture in the pyramidal effect produced. The monumental proportions of the Temple make it a conspicuous and awe inspiring symbol of the fraternity. It expresses the dignity, importance, mystery, and spirit of Freemasonry.

On either side of the lower tier of columns are the Square and Compasses. Large bronze discs on the face of the second stage display emblems of the five groups which compose the Temple Association. Two Latin inscriptions are on the front of the Temple.

Above the upper tier of columns appears the inscription, in Latin, which the Grand Lodge of Missouri places upon every charter issued by it, "Let There Be Light and There Was Light." Over the main entrance to the Temple there appears, in pure classic Latin, the inscription, "To The Glory Of The Great Architect Of The Universe And The Brotherhood of Man." These inscriptions proclaim the purpose of the craft.

The Temple is flanked by driverways on either side. There is a seperate ornate entrance on the east side. A cartouche over the east entrance and a carved panel directly above the bronze doors completes the exterior arrangement of features. Other door openings and windows are distributed around the building as necessary.

Ornamental treatment in the plans and specifications for the Temple included sculptural decorations. A sculptural group appears in the plans for crowing the Temple pediment. The principal figure in the group represents Mercury, the messenger of the gods, who first brought light to earth. At the ends of the south pediment, and corners of the second terrace, bronze griffins are shown in defensive attitude. Flood lighting emphasizes the magnificent facade in glowing light.

The approach from Lindell Boulevard is by a monumental flight of steps. Provision is made for guarding the steps on either side by sculptured figures of the Sphinx. A beautiful Masonic altar, carved of Chelmsford granite, is positioned in the center of the stair.

Among the great buildings of the world, the Masonic Temple is notable for its prominence. It is archtecture in its highest form. The dignity, nobleness, and simple grandeur of the Temple stir emotions of awe and reverence when viewing that huge pile of masonry. Its vast size creates a lasting impression of its superb and imposing permanence.

About this Website

This website is a work in progress. It was created by myself, Brother John W. Ratcliff. I am member of Naphtali #25 which meets at the New Masonic Temple. This is not an 'official' website, but simply represents my own enthusiasm for this great architectural treasure. It is my goal, over the coming years, to gather a complete history of the temple and record it before it is lost. Please email me if you have questions or concerns about anything on this website.

Some Additional photographs of the New Temple

The Blue Lodge room where Naphtali #25 meets.

The statue of Brother George Washington in the foyer.

The New Temple from Lindell.

A closer view showing the top floor.