Masonic Temple Lodge No. 18 Rehabilitation

Downtown Bozeman’s Masonic Temple Lodge No. 18 — early in the 20th century (above) and in 2014, before restoration began

Epitomizing the unification of historic restoration and new design, the Masonic Temple project saved and preserved a significant historic building in downtown Bozeman, MT. Overcoming years of disparate modifications and unrecognizability, the Main Street façade now celebrates the building’s 1890s origin while the side façade represents the present.

Masonic Lodge No. 18 purchased the original Story Building in 1949 and began a remodel led by Fred Willson, who sliced the parapet and brick detailing to provide a flat surface for stucco; and replaced the original wood, double-hung windows with steel casement sash. In 1980, the windows were covered and the walls re-stuccoed.

The Masonic Temple Board wished to enliven their drab, windowless building; to again be a good neighbor to Main Street; and to announce their entry, previously hidden in a side street facade. They asked for a curtain wall to expose their stacked lobbies, and for improved circulation and restrooms. Overall, they wanted to celebrate their space and extend an invitation to the community. Supporting goals included reuse of historic brick to rebuild the parapets and replacement of single-pane steel windows with insulated glass double-hung wood windows — with a higher U-value than code required. The curtain wall and storefront also exceed energy code requirements, and LED lighting was used throughout.

Workers in 1950 often coped the back of wood studs versus shaving the brick corbeling. Though the west façade bore the brunt of the 1950 chiseling, enough original detailing remained to allow for restoration of the main façade. As the corbelled parapet and pilasters had been sheared off the Tracy Avenue facade, this west wall was prime for the addition of a rain screen featuring fiber cement panels whose pattern and dimension reflected and align with the historic masonry.

In the new design, the west side of the building was sliced through at the two-story lobby, exposing a new stairway and the activity in the second floor event space. New finishes are steeped in Masonic symbolism: columns flanking the elevator entry, a checkered lobby floor, bronze compasses shielding the stair and guardrails, and a pyramidal light fixture illuminating it all. The Masonic Lodge building now exudes a sweet blend of historic and contemporary design visible in a strong statement at its corner location. It is once more welcoming and open to all of Bozeman.