The Masonic Temple – Historic Walking Tour
The Masonic Temple is located at 533 Eaton Street, between Simonton and Duval Streets. This is a building you can’t miss. It has a modern style and looks quite different than most of the other buildings in Key West.
But, the building you see today isn’t the original building on this spot. The original building was a wooden structure built in the 1870’s. It was built to be the Mason’s meeting hall and lodge. The original building had two and half stories. The first floor was reserved for businesses while the upper floors were used by the Masons.
The New Design
In 1949, the Mason’s reached out to Henry Hohauser to design a new lodge. Mr. Hohauser is considered to be a “guiding light” of the Miami Beach Art Deco Architectural District. When looking at the building today it does look very much like those buildings you see in South Beach. This was what the Mason’s were seeking, a building with a very futuristic look.
The building is built in what is referred to as Streamline Moderne. This style has simple lines and aerodynamic curves. This concrete structure really contrasts those currently seen in Key West’s Historic Old Town. It has large, expansive windows which add to the building’s modern look. This style began after the Great Depression and become more popular after World War II.
In 2013, the Studios of Key West purchased the building. The Studios is a “non-profit arts organization dedicated to enhancing and enriching the cultural life of the city”.Studios of Key West offers art classes, performances, art studios, and exhibitions. Be sure to stop by and see what is being offered while you are in town.
On the first floor, you will find Books & Books. This is “Key West’s local, nonprofit, independent bookstore and community center for readers and writers.” The bookstore was founded by George Cooper and his wife, the beloved author, Judy Blume. Check out what’s new while you are in town.
The Masonic Temple is a different architectural style found in Historic Old Town. Walk by and take in the clean lines and curves of the building. This is definitely a one of a kind building.
(credit: KeyWestHistoricMarkerTour.org and TSKW.org)