Y’all know how much I love learning more about he history of our building and our town. History fascinates me and even more so from the mid 1800s until the early 1900s. Those who know me well know that my absolute favorite tv show of all time is Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I remember being a child glued to the tv every Saturday evening at 8pm. I was determined to never miss an episode. I was very thankful when the vcr plus came around & my parents purchased one so I️ could record the episodes on vhs tapes if we weren’t home and watch them over & over. When I was in middle school my parents surprised me with a visit to the set of the show. It was between filmings so we were able to walk around the entire set up at paramount ranch in the Los Angeles area. Talk about one of the best days of my entire childhood!!! I still have a small piece of rope that I found on the ground & shoved in my pocket. It’s currently hanging from a light in the library.
We found an old program from when the building was dedicated back on September 15, 1927 not long after we moved in.
The booklet is really neat because it tells a bit about the history of Freemasonry which came to Huntington in 1851. They were in a building that was downtown and subsequently a few other buildings before what is now our building was built. The Masons were very active in Huntington and even laid the cornerstone of the court house in 1904 and were in charge of all of the ceremonies as hundreds of Masons and Knights Templars from surrounding towns came to help.
For over 20 years the Masons in Huntington were looking forward to when they would have a home of their own. Several attempts were made but were not successful to acquire a piece of land to build on. Construction began in 1926 & the building was finished and dedicated a year later.
This page in the program in particular talks about a man named Dr. Abner H. Shaffer who was 99 years old at the time the building was finished was not only the oldest living member of any Masonic lodge in Huntington county, but also had the honor & distinction of being the oldest in Masonic years, having been made a master Mason in 1857, seventy years prior. Pretty amazing.
The day of the dedication looked like it was one heck of a celebration. I like to think back as to what parties in the early 1900s looked like. They had a grand parade which spanned 17 blocks around the downtown area! I wish I could have seen it because I bet it was quite the grand affair!
Following the parade there was a special dinner in the temple banquet hall (aka basement) for all of the visiting & local members that was put on by the ladies of the Order of the Eastern Star. Prepared and served out of the commercial kitchen that we now use daily. After dinner there was what looks like a meeting for the Masons themselves and then a dance at 9:30pm. Oh to attend a 1920s dance!! I’ve had literally hundreds of people here in town that I’ve met tell me they’ve all attended either a meal (fish fry, pancake breakfast etc) or a dance of some sort in the basement at least one time in their lives. I absolutely love the connection that the building still to this day has with its community.
The owner of Antiqology here in town sent me a few photos he had found of the inside of the building from when it was dedicated. (Which is an amazing ice cream & soda pop shop- if you haven’t been there YOU MUST GO CHECK IT OUT! Good stuff & good people!) These are the same photos that were printed in the dedication program to show off how visually stunning the building is inside & out.
Here is what was known as “The Main Lobby” which we call the second floor foyer or entrance to our home. The ceiling still has the same painting and the same light fixtures today.
“The Men’s Lounge” which is now our living room & main living area. This photo is taken from the corner of the room which will become our upstairs kitchen. You will also notice the black walnut table and most of the furniture in this photo we now own. It’s absolutely amazing what good shape all of the furniture is still after almost 100 years!
And of course the library. I’ve done multiple posts and a video about the library. All of the light fixtures in these photos are still in use today.
“The Grand Lodge Room” is exactly just that. Grand. Grand in every sense of the word. It’s massive and takes your breath away the first time you see it. The flooring is different now and the chairs on the stage and along the right side of the floor level were taken as well as the two freestanding pillars to the Masons new location. We removed the arches on the stage as they were starting to fall apart. All of the stadium seating on the upper level is still there and in immaculate condition.
The next photo I want to print on a larger scale and frame to hang on a wall somewhere in the building because it’s so cool. It was taken in November 1959. There are a few really interesting things about this photo…..
First, check out the car! Seriously awesome! Second, the sign is different than the one that stands there today. The newer one is very similar but a slightly different shape. Third, the little tree to the east of the building! That tree today towers over the building & is a good 6 feet taller than the building itself! And fourth which is the most obvious- the house directly next to the building. It is no longer there. I’m not sure when it happened (if anyone knows please let me know!) but at one point the property went up for sale and the Masons bought it, tore down the house and turned the area into a paved parking lot.
Here’s a photo taken today for comparison.
So many things in & around the building have changed and stayed the same at the same time. While we’re updating a lot of it, we will continue to try and maintain its integrity as much as possible.
I’m still imagining what the day of the dedication must have been like! Too bad I don’t have a time machine to witness it firsthand!