As we make our way up Houghton’s main commercial street we find one last architectural gem of significance to explore – that belonging to the city’s massive Masonic Temple. Built in 1910, this was a rather late addition to the Houghton skyline, but easily makes up for its tardiness in sheer magnitude. Rising over four stories in height and spanning across four storefronts on ground level the building is a monster. Built by the Houghton chapter of the Free and Accepted Masons, the building’s top two floors contained an enormous theater / meeting hall – the largest of its kind in the Keweenaw. The lower floors were rented out to businesses.
The temple’s sweeping front facade is divided up into several bays by a series of smooth faced sandstone pilasters. Rough-faced sandstone accents the building’s triplex grouping of windows and a hint of rounded arches top the bays. Centralized within the facade is narrow bay of single windows anchored by the building’s main entrance.
Above the entranceway to the upper floors sits an overly ornate pediment complete with several scrolls and a masonic symbol. The words “Masonic Temple” are carved into the doors header. Once again, as evident by this photo, sandstone doesn’t take too well to the ravages of time and weather.
More Masonic symbology can be found at the building’s cornerstone, which would usually hold the building’s construction date. Instead we get the classic compass and square symbol surrounding the letter “G” which stands for the masons guiding philosophy – Geometry.
Looking further up at the building’s cornice we find more compass and square symbols (just barely visible under the overhang) along with a pair of carved “wings”. Most interesting of all is those large oversized brackets supporting that large cornice, complete with massive ornate rings. We’ll take a closer look at those brackets, which are by far the building’s most striking element…
Turning the corner to the building’s east facade we find it to be a little less ornate then the front side, which is to be expected. With the sun on this side you can better appreciate the building’s rich color.
Before leaving Shelden we’ll take one last look down the road back towards were we have been. Sitting at its doorstep is the Masonic Temple (on the right) and the Houghton Club to the left.