Masonic Temple Warrensburg Missouri
The construction of the Masonic Temple on Holden Street in 1894, just a couple of years before the construction of the 1898 courthouse, marked the permanent transition of the heart of the community from Old Town centered on Main Street to New Town centered on Holden Street.
Masonry played a significant role in the life of Missouri men and women. Although segregated along racial and gender lines, the Masonic organization was important to the residents of Warrensburg. Warrensburg's Corinthian Lodge No. 265 was organized on October 15, 1868.
In 1890 the membership of Corinthian Lodge No. 265 had grown to 104 members, which represented about 2.2 percent of Warrensburg's population. By 1893, while most of the nation was struggling in the midst of an economic crisis, the members of the Corinthian Lodge were making plans to establish a permanent meeting hall.
In 1893 members of the Lodge formed a stock company to raise money to begin construction on a permanent lodge. The stock company quickly sold four hundred shares for $50 each and the Masonic Temple Association created a building committee to secure an architect to draft plans for the new meeting space.
William S. Matthews and Lewis L. Sanders from Kansas City drafted plans to construct a Richardsonian Romanesque lodge, that would not only include lodge meeting space, but commercial space on the street level. Construction began in June of 1893 and was completed in June 1894.
The total cost to construct the Masonic Temple was $20,720, which included the cost of the lots. The Masonic Temple included an impressive main entrance constructed of sandstone. Erath and Thym, who provided the sandstone for the project, operated a local saw mill. In all probability the sandstone they used came from either the Bruce or Pickle Bros sandstone quarries, which were located north of Warrensburg. Those quarries provided sandstone that was utilized in the construction of buildings not only in Warrensburg, but across the region.
On August 22, 1893, Masons from Johnson County came to Warrensburg for the cornerstone ceremony. The ceremony was led by Worshipful Grand Master B. H. Ingram from Sedalia. After the ceremony, the attendees went to Pertle Springs, a popular local resort that J. H. Christopher, a fellow Mason, had developed.
The formal dedication of the building occurred eleven months later on July 17, 1894, when B. H. Ingram returned to lead that ceremony. The attendees also retired to Pertle Springs after the dedication "where a bounteous spread had been prepared by the wives and daughters of resident Masons."
The Masonic Temple Association rented out the third floor to various Masonic organizations and they also collected rent from the businesses that were located on the first floor and office spaces that were rented out on the second floor. In 1900, Warrensburg Chapter No. 3 of the Order of Eastern Star, for female relatives was organized, and also utilized the space on the third floor.
The Masonic Temple remained in active use by the Corinthian Lodge until 1980 when they sold the building and moved to a newer building north of town.