Aug 17

Masonic Temple in San Luis Obispo dedicated

Apron used at dedications of several significant San Luis Obispo buildings including a courthouse, library and temple. Now framed at the Masonic Temple in San Luis Obispo..

The Masons have a deep sense of history.
This apron was used in many ceremonies. It dedicated cornerstones of three court houses including Stockton and Visalia then later San Luis Obispo in 1872.
Tribune founder, judge and freemason Walter Murray wore it during the San Luis Obispo courthouse dedication ceremony. The apron outlasted the old courthouse which was demolished in 1939 by Alex Madonna.
In addition the apron was in use at the dedication a library, two masonic lodges and one temple. The Carnegie library in Paso Robles, San Simeon Lodge and the Masonic Temple in San Luis Obispo have all seen this ceremonial apron.
The apron was made in 1788 by Miss Helen McLean in Louisville, Kentucky and brought to Stockton, California by Stewart M. Mitchell in 1852, just three years after the gold rush.
Now framed, it hangs in a place of honor at the San Luis Obispo Temple.
When the Temple was dedicated December 19, 1913 the event was front page news in both the Telegram and the Tribune. Though the Tribune was run by Benjamin Brooks, an active mason, the Telegram under hard driving owner C.L. Day had the newsier story. They also published a day earlier, just before the ceremony, in keeping with Day’s mantra, “Today’s news Today.” The afternoon Telegram had a very descriptive story about the construction of the lodge.
Brooks had a more laid back style the following morning with his dedication story and perhaps did not want to appear to be bragging.

Temple Beautiful

A stately and beautiful temple symbolizing the highest ideals in fraternity and the brotherhood of man, has arisen in the city of San Luis Obispo, and is being dedicated today.
Fully completed its classic front, fashioned in strict Doric order, faces west on Marsh street near the intersection of Chorro street.
The Masonic Temple, as it will be known, occupies a ground space of 80×115 feet, is three stories high and built of reinforced concrete on an extra heavy wood frame.
The ground floor contains two large store rooms, one occupied by the San Luis Furniture Co. and the other to be the headquarters of the local telephone corporation. Between these is located a large central stairway entered through specially designed, massive doors, which leads by easy gradients to the magnificent home of the local lodges of the most ancient fraternal order in the world.
At the head of the stairs of the second floor one steps into a princely hall covered with the finest Wilton velvet carpet—as are the stairs—and, turning east enters the assembly club room of the lodge. This room occupies the entire north-east corner of the building, is 33×45 in dimensions and a veritable dream of comfort and luxury. The color effects here, as everywhere in the entire temple, present a blending of harmonious shades that prove a source of unending delight wherever the eye rests. The walls in this lounging room are finished in leather, the effect being carried out in the leather hangings and the furniture which is of middle English design and upholstered in the most luxurious manner.
The billiard and pool tables in this room were procured from the East and specially finished to match the color scheme of the hangings. Another special feature of this room is the large hooded fireplace of middle English design.
Connected with the assembly room and to the west is the library and reading room finished in old ivory and fitted with middle English furniture of easy chairs, writing table and book cases.
Still farther west and en suite with the library is the ladies’ parlor, a dainty love of a room finished in meerschaum colors and grass matt paper. The furniture here is of veal reed, and portiers and hanging match the upholstering. Connected with the ladies’ parlor is a dressing room annex.
Crossing the hall from here one enters the fine social hall, which takes up a space 35×50 and at the southerly end of which is located a pretty little stage fitted with blue velvet curtains. The flooring of this social and banquet hall is of hard maple, which is covered with removable canvas when not in use for dancing purposes. The beautiful color design is meerschaum, tan and dull gold, while the indirect lighting system employed here gives an effect of great brilliance without a particle of glare. Connected with the room and to the side and rear of the stage is located an elaborate kitchen in which banquets may be prepared along metropolitan lines.
And now the visitor, again crossing the spacious hall and heading east, enters an apartment which is the last word in the architects and decorator’s art and the acme of all that is splendid and imposing—the lodge room of the temple.
An apartment of palatial dimensions, fitted with massive lodge paraphernalia, presents a vision of grandeur an sublimity, which, according to some widely traveled Masons present, has no equal in lodge room architecture in the country.
The architect’s imagery evolved a design to represent an out-door temple and in carrying out this idea the side and end walls are fitted with columns at distances some ten feet apart and running up to an entomblature. The spaces between the columns are filled with specially designed Birge leather hangings carrying a view of cedar trees thrown against a background of gold. The effect is almost spell binding, and at night is heightened by superb lighting arrangements, both direct and indirect systems being used, which give the impression of dwelling in an open woodland temple into which the twilight of departing day casts a mellow and yet cheerful glow.
Massive leather upholstered chairs line the walls, and the stations of the officers are marvels of the craftsman’s art.
High over the station of the Senior Warden at the north-westerly end is located the choir loft, large enough to hold a pipe organ, in which is installed at present a pianola.
The third floor is occupied by the Knight Templar armory to which is annexed a buffet kitchen.
The entire front of this floor is given over to “bachelor’s apartments” for use of such members of the fraternity as desire handsome and exclusive quarters. There are seven of these chambers, luxuriously furnished and of pleasing color designs. Each of the rooms is fitted with dressing closets and hot and cold water. Two bath rooms and a shower bath, together with storage rooms occupy the balance of this floor.
In the construction and fitting of this splendid building several innovations in the heating and lighting methods were introduced with most effective results.
To the genius and untiring zeal and skill of the architect, John Davis Hatch as well as to the indefatigable labors of Walter Adriance, president of the Masonic Hall Association, in the completion of this magnificent addition to the city’s architecture, superlative praise is due and enthusiastically awarded.
Others that have had a share in the building and fitting of this palatial Masonic home are, W.J. Smith, the general contractor; The Union Hardware & Plumbing Co., which looked after the plumbing; J.E. O’Mara, heating; W.V. Fisk, electrical contractor; The San Luis Furniture Co., who superintended the placing of the furniture specially designed by D. & N.E. Walter of San Francisco, Roberts Mfg. Co of San Francisco, designers of the electric fixtures; G.W. Gilbert, designer and decorator, and many others.

Masonic Temple dedication in San Luis Obispo, December 19, 1913 front page of the Daily Telegram.

According to this year’s Master of the Lodge Robert Bettencourt, King David’s Lodge No. 209 will hold an open house August 28, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The almost 100-year old building will be open to tours and admission is free.

In other news of note on the page president Woodrow Wilson bitterly disappointed conservationists by signing a bill allowing the city of San Francisco to use the water from the Hetch Hetchy valley. Yosemite is our only National Park to be used in this way.

Related posts:

  1. The Chinese temple in Cambria
  2. Monterey Street stories – San Luis Obispo
  3. San Luis Obispo Gasworks
  4. San Luis Obispo builds a City Hall on Higuera Street
  5. Mission San Luis Obispo, adobe with wood walls – The Leonard Collection