Restoration of Masonic Temple nets Bozeman historic restoration beautification award

By: CTA In The News
22 November 2017

The Masonic Temple Lodge 18 in Bozeman, MT, was recently presented an Award for Excellence, in the Extensive Historic Restoration category, by the Bozeman Beautification Advisory Board. The project, which represents 12 months of design by a team from CTA Architects Engineers and 14 months of renovation completed by Walker Construction, was completed in June 2017.

This Masonic Temple epitomizes the unification of historic restoration and new design. 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.

The original Story Building was a substantial brick structure that not only aided in the elevation of Main Street, but also Bozeman as it lobbied to become the capital of Montana. Masonic Lodge No. 18 purchased the two-story block in 1949 and began a Fred Willson-led remodel. Willson sliced the parapet and brick detailing to provide a flat surface for stucco; and he replaced the original wood, double-hung windows with steel casement sash. The remodeling was touted as representing the International Style, yet increased maintenance costs prompted the Masons to consider repairs as early as 1957. 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.

The Masonic Temple project saved and preserved a significant historic building. 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.

During extensive analyses of the 1950 and 1980 drawings, photographs, and exposures made in the existing stucco, the design team concluded workers in 1950 selected a path of least resistance. They often coped the back of wood studs versus shaving the brick corbeling. Though the west façade bore the brunt of the 1950 chiseling, luckily 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. The pattern and dimension of these panels reflect and align with the historic masonry. The grey color creates a subtle contrast to complement the red brick and sandstone of the adjacent 1890s façade.

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.


“This project allowed us to explore several design directions with the Masonic Temple, aided by analysis of prior construction documents and exploratory cuts through the 1950s stucco façade. It also gave us the opportunity to stretch our design philosophy into the realm of the Masonic Lodge’s historic symbolism. Masonic Temple, Inc. was a supportive client that encouraged our research, explorations, and proposed designs; thus, they are responsible in large part for the success of the final outcome. We remain grateful for their inspirational partnership.”


“Helping to carry the client’s vision forward to transform and contribute to the vibrancy of the Downtown Bozeman atmosphere is a unique and exciting experience. Maintaining the simplicity of new façade design to blend and complement the historic masonry building was truly satisfying and a great team effort.”

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