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Did You Know: Phoenix Masonic Temple Almost 90 Years Old

The Phoenix Masonic Temple at 4th Avenue and Monroe Street. The Temple was erected in 1926.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/ KJZZ News)
The Phoenix Masonic Temple at 4th Avenue and Monroe Street. The Temple was erected in 1926.

It’s among several buildings in downtown Phoenix that date to the early 20th Century and it has been the home to several of Arizona’s most famous leaders.

The Masonic Temple in downtown Phoenix has been sitting on the corner of 4th Avenue and Monroe Street for nearly 90 years. It is considered the most active Masonic Temple in Arizona. Did You Know… the building was considered for demolition in the 1990s?

“The three sides that around us right now, they wanted this the fourth side," said Andrew Warianka, the Building Manager. "They wanted it for a parking garage."

He’s been part of the organization and in the building since the 1960s and he’s also a local lodge Master.

“The city of Phoenix wanted to eminent domain the building," Warianka said. "And they’d actually voted on it and came here with their paperwork and we said 'Well, we’ve already got or paperwork.' Beat them to the punch otherwise this would have been ground level.”

The three-story, rectangular shape structure was built in 1926. This is a 46,000-square-foot building and the home of several lodges. Its primary group is Arizona Lodge #2. On the ground level is the dining area and a 4,000-square-foot auditorium. The second floor was created as the temple’s main lobby. And the elevator is original, small and with a sliding gate door.

Freemasons is a fraternal group initially founded in the middle ages. Warianka said their purpose lies on the foundation of making good men better persons, serving communities and charitable organizations in various ways. Each room is used by specific lodges and they’re identified by a color. The Blue Room is the home lodge’s meeting area. The Gold Room is where the Ladies of the Freemasons meet.

“And I would imagine you can know what the name of this room is," Warianka said.

The Red Room. This is where the York Rite hosts their gatherings. Warianka said Arizona Lodge #2 was actually chartered by the California Grand Lodge in 1879, at the time Arizona did not have one. By 1900, the Arizona Lodge decided it was time to find a home — here.

“Along about that time we started looking around the Valley," Warianka said. "When we settled on this, there were actually four or five locations that we’d looked at. All in the downtown area. And they settled on this.”

The Masonic Temple is listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register. Preservationists said the building is important to Valley history not only for its Neo-Classic style architecture, but also for its proximity to local and state buildings. They say Freemasons have been integral to the growth of the area because many of the members have been leaders of our state, including people like Barry Goldwater, members of the Luhrs family and John Rhodes —  just to name a few.

Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez was a reporter at KJZZ from 2008 to 2015.