The world’s oldest fraternal organization committed to self-improvement, charity, and brotherhood, the Freemasons had a presence in Cleveland since the early 1800s.the Century when the first hostel in the city was organized in 1811.
Known as Concord Lodge No. 15, its charter was allowed to lapse in the face of the anti-Masonic movement that prevailed in the 1830s. This situation was not allowed to last long with the founding of Webb Lodge No. 14 in 1836.
Cleveland Masons, circa 1941As the population grew and Freemasonry became more popular, the number of lodges increased. In 1859, the Scottish Rite Masons settled in Cleveland. The Scottish Rite traces its existence back to the massacre of the Knights Templar in Paris in 1307 when the survivors fled to Scotland for their lives and safety. Interestingly, this bloodbath took place on Friday, October 13, 1307, thus creating the tradition that Friday the 13ththe it is an unlucky day.
The city’s first purpose-built Lodge building was built in 1883 on Superior Avenue and today East 6the Street.
early 20’sthe century, the decision was made to build a Masonic Auditorium. Land at 3615 Euclid Avenue was purchased and the prominent Cleveland architectural firm Hubbell & Benes was hired to design the structure.
To accommodate the new building, the former home of investment banker and industrialist Henry C. Wick was moved to a new location further north on East 36the Street.
Masonic Temple Asylum, ca. 1930 The Masonic Auditorium looms to this day over its corner of Euclid Avenue at E.36the Street. Its vast expanse of relatively windowless brick walls lends a look of fortress to imaginative viewers seeing it for the first time.
Quite austere and imposing from the outside, the grand building houses a well-appointed auditorium and impressive meeting rooms noted for their beautifully executed woodwork.
In 1918, the newly formed Cleveland Orchestra made some of its first recordings in the auditorium, and the building’s excellent acoustics led some to argue that, as a music venue, it surpasses Severance Hall. The building certainly provided a worthy home for the Cleveland Orchestra for the first decade of its existence.
During World War II, the building housed a large USO installation; in the war years, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines passed through its gates seeking a moment of recreation while traveling through Cleveland.
The auditorium provided a home for a variety of Masonic bodies including the Al Sirat Grotto, Scottish Rite, Shriners, DeMolay and Knights Templar.
These organizations are known for their generosity and service to the community. Membership in them has been cherished by generations of Cleveland men for whom it has been a long family tradition.
Unfortunately, changing demographics and declining numbers led to harsh realities, and it became necessary for Masonic bodies to sell the structure they owned for the better part of 20 years.the Century.
Masonic rites are still performed in the Masonic Auditorium, such as the Cleveland Valley Scottish Rite Meetings which are customarily held twice a year. Although the building is under new ownership, the traditions of Freemasonry continue.
Far from being a secret organization, the presence of Freemasonry could hardly be more obvious, and Masonic lodges in the Cleveland area welcome the interest of good men who wish to be better men, seeking more light through Freemasonry.