The Story: The Masonic Temple in Portland houses a local lodge, regional orders, and the Masonic Grand Lodge of Maine. Even this headquarters for Masonic activity in the Maine faces problems common to smaller lodges and fraternal organizations statewide, making it emblematic of issues facing historic fraternal organization buildings. Constructed in 1911 by architect Fredric Thompson, this commercial block occupies a prominent position in the Portland streetscape between First Parish Church and City Hall. An example of Beaux-Arts Classicism, the exterior is monumental in character, and the interior boasts spaces reflecting that style, including a decorative two-story hall with attached Corinthian columns.
The Threat: A portion of the building was sold for commercial office use nearly two decades ago. Like many fraternal and community-oriented institutions, Masonic membership has declined and funds are scarce and the Trustees of the building are preparing to sell for commercial development. The sale of the building would likely result the unique interior spaces’ substantial alteration.
The Solution: Fraternal organizations are facing declining membership state and nation wide, a problem that can lead to organizations relinquishing buildings too large for current needs or for lack of funds to maintain older spaces. Sensitive reuse by buyers of former fraternal organization properties would help preserve these resources.