Sunday, March 28, 2021

Chester's Masonic Hall aka Temple opens 100 years ago!!


A postcard of the Masonic Temple in Chester on 9th St. at Welsh St. shortly after it was built. 

NOTE: Chester's Masonic Temple  was one of the prettiest building in Chester when it was built in 1921 and still is today. I had the pleasure of speaking there several years ago and was struck by the beauty of the building on the inside. Truely a Chester landmark.

November 25, 1921 

THOUSANDS OF Citizens and Visitors Inspect Shrine of the Fraternity

                The beautiful new half-million dollar temple of the Chester Masonic Association was highly admired and commended as a step forward in the history of Chester by the more than ten thousand visitors who inspected the ornate and handsomely decorated and furnished structure on Wednesday night and yesterday.

                Everybody was deeply impressed with the magnificence of the building, the beauty of the interior embellishments and the richly arranged furniture which harmonizes to the fullest extent in all the main rooms and the adjoining features of the temple.

                Masons and their families were entertained on Wednesday evening.  There were concerts and musical programs rendered in the large and spacious banquet hall and also in the main lobby of the club room on the lower floor.  The Cedars’ band discoursed lively tunes in the banquet hall and the Dannaker-McIntyre orchestra played a splendid program in the main lobby.  Dancing was not a part of the program, but was one of the features of the evening.

                William S. Haney, who visualized the new Temple and carried out his plans with the assistance of the fraternity, as chairman of the building committee, presided at the brief opening exercises.  He described the building and emphasized its greatness to the community at large and the Masons of Chester and vicinity.

                OPENING EXERCISES – Dean Francis M. Taitt, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and past master of Lucius H. Scott Lodge, opened the exercises by calling upon everyone to follow him in the recital of the Lord’s Prayer, after which he read a psalm.

                Dr. Taitt, in his address, declared that Chester had a great flood of population and now that the flood is receding, there would follow a more permanent increase of population and prosperity.

                “The Masons of Chester wanted something to remain from what had been and something that would be prepared for what should be in the development and best interests of the community,” said Dean Taitt.  “Therefore, the new Temple is the result of the prosperity that came to the fraternity during the past years and is a preparation for the greater prosperity hoped for in the future.”

                Seated on the platform with Dean Taitt and Chairman Haney were Charles R. Innis, treasurer, and Samuel N. Mitchell, who were the most active workers with Mr. Haney in the building project.

                The new Temple is a very successful study in the modern adaptation of the Renaissance style of architecture.  The main composition of the building is of Indiana limestone here, supporting lofty Ironic pilaster with beautifully carved cups.  These in turn support an attic story in limestone and brick.

                The walls above the limestone base are studied in red tapestry brick, laid in Flemish bond with a large limestone carved with the emblem surrounded by the winged son motive.

                The main composition of the building is that of three stories which compose the main rooms of the building, including the main club rooms on the first floor, the banquet room on the second floor, and the lodge room on the third floor.  At the service side of the building there are six stories, including the three mezzanines, in which are located the cloak rooms, ladies’ retiring rooms, lavatories, kitchens and all the service features of the building.

                On the Ninth Street side there are two ornamental bronze standard lanterns studied in the style of the Italian palaces.  On the Welsh Street side there are two mason bracket lanterns in similar style.

                The building on the two main streets is set well back from the property line, permitting a very effective scheme for parking and planting with tall evergreen trees which front the main entrances of the building and a pivot hedge which completely surrounds the two main fronts.

                The whole composition of the building is conceded to be a most successful design and has been very much admired by all who have seen it.  Ritter and Shay, Philadelphia, were the architects and designers of the interior decorations, the latter being arranged by the Chapman Company of Philadelphia.

                ONE OF THE BEST – The Temple is conceded to be one of the finest in this section of the country.  The interior architectural treatment, as well as the decorative furnishings are unique.  They combine the lofty grandeur of the old world palaces with the simple dignity and comfort that should characterize a Temple of this kind.

                The working equipment of the lodge room was the gift of Albert Wunderlich, a member of the Chester Lodge and departmental chief in the Pennsylvania Railroad.  One of the impressive features in the lodge room is the chair, conforming to the others, presented in the memory of Sergeant Alfred Stevenson, for whom the local Post of the American Legion was named.  The chair is placed in the station occupied by Sergeant Stevenson when he met his heroic death in France.

                There were numerous bouquets in the different rooms, including a beautiful bouquet of roses from Prospect Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, and the Ladies’ Auxiliaries, Knights Templar of this city and West Chester.

                Masons from all parts of Delaware County and other sections with their wives and lady friends inspected the handsome new temple.  Yesterday the building was thrown open to the general public.

                The first story of the building is given over exclusively to club purposes and will be used by the Keystone Club, a part of the National association, which already has a membership which will exceed the 1000 mark before Christmas.  The part of the building is reminiscent of the old Italian palaces.  The decorated beamed ceilings represent many of the fine old Italian rooms.  Thee furniture is walnut, with red velvet upholstery and the hangings are of the same material.

                The lighting of the main lobby is from a large bronze lantern, studied in Italian style and finished in antique iron and gold.  There are floor standards with parchment shades to harmonize.  The reading room and lounge immediately adjoining on either side, are entered through large columned archways, with Italian Renaissance caps and cornice decorated in blue and gold.  The decorations and lighting of these rooms are very splendidly done.

                The basement is very brightly decorated and will be used as a grill room for the members of the club and also as a game room.  Three3 pocket billiard tables have already been installed and other games will be added.

                The banquet hall is in the French Renaissance style and the fine soft coloring and decorations make this the most attractive I this section.  The stage is done in a sunburst with rich plum curtains and the lights are a brilliant sunburst pattern.  The window hangings are faun.

                The lodge rooms is a study of the old Greek temples and was the real spectacular feature.  The walls are yellowish tone and relieved by a stenciled Greek ornamentation.  The main frieze is decorated with the Walls of Troy motive interrupted by Greek rosette ornaments.  The color scheme of the whole room is inspired by the old Greek mosaics and pottery with the effective use of rich colorings of burnt orange, deep yellow and black and gold tones, all of which is in striking contrast to the gold blue upholstering of the lodge room benches, which are in rich velvet on solid walnut frames.

                There are massive Ionic columns in the station of the Master where there is hung a velvet stole trimmed with gold braids and richly decorated with embroidered emblems in gold and colors.  The massive chandeliers are Greek in character of design and finished in bright ormolu gold with opalescent glass globes.

                A special room is on the sixth floor for the meeting of ladies’ auxiliaries and other affairs.


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