Arkansas/U.S. – Grand Masonic Temple still stands vacant after years as meeting place


Arkansas/U.S. - Grand Masonic Temple still stands vacant after years as meeting place

(by Michael Schwarz Specia, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 3, 2021)

 

Although now it is abandoned, the Grand Masonic Temple in Pine Bluff has had a storied history. The idea for the temple was conceived by Grand Master Moses A. Clark in 1902. The cornerstone was laid the same year, but it would take another decade to complete the structure.

The first meeting was held in the building in 1909. The building was damaged by fire in May 1954. Remodeling began in the fall of 1954 and was completed in 1955. It served as the meeting place for the Masons and Order of the Eastern Star and other Masonic houses until 2005.

When it was completed, the Masonic lodge was the tallest building in Pine Bluff. The structure was built in stages by the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Arkansas, the state’s Black Masonic order. The first Black Masonic organization in Arkansas was the J.M. Alexander Lodge No. 4 established at Helena in June, 1866 by the Grand Lodge of Missouri. On March 28, 1873, representatives from the three Black Masonic lodges met in Little Rock to form a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Arkansas. The organization of the Grand Lodge was established on March 31, 1873, and William Henry Gray, a free-born native of Washington, D.C., was elected the first grand master. Black Masonry thus began a period of rapid growth, and by the 1880s, a movement began to construct a Grand Lodge building.

A group headed by Wiley Jones initiated efforts to persuade the Grand Lodge to be located in Pine Bluff. Jones bought two lots on East Second Avenue and presented them to…

read more in Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

Arkansas/U.S. - Grand Masonic Temple still stands vacant after years as meeting place

 

Arkansas/U.S. - Grand Masonic Temple still stands vacant after years as meeting place
 

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