History of The Freemasons Hall

Estey Pipe Organ

Built in 1926 at a cost of over $1 million dollars, this building was built as a monument to the ambitions of the fraternity. Designed by Charles A. Weatherhogg, the building stands 10 stories high. This beautiful building was immediately one of the largest structures on the Fort Wayne skyline. At the time of it's construction, over 10,000 members came and went for various meetings, dinners, dances and fraternal functions.

During it's grand opening in June 1926, a grand ball was hosted by the Associated Masonic Trustees and all of Fort Wayne was invited. It's said that nearly 3,000 citizens attended that ball.

The original plans for the building called for bowling alleys in the basement - although those plans appear to have been scrapped. The building featured two "electric passenger elevators" and a force blast heating and ventilating system complete with thermostatic controls.

For decades, the social room was an exclusive gentleman's club where men could enjoy fellowship with with their fraternal brothers.

The building boasts four separate lodge rooms, all identical in size although decorated differently. They are the Corinthian Room, Ionic Room, Egyptian Room and Colonial Room. They are still the largest lodge rooms in the state of Indiana.

The building was truly state of the art for 1926 and established Fort Wayne and Allen County as one of the premiere locales in the midwest for Masonic fraternity.

Pictured left is in an early postcard, Freemasons Hall shared the block for four decades with the Scotttish Rite Cathedral, completed in 1924.

Originally the building shared a causeway with the Scottish Rite building (photo right) which allowed convenient shared event space.

By using the adjoined space of the two buildings, approximately 3,000 people could be seated for a dinner or to enjoy a show. Even by today's standards, it was a massive event space.

Here the buildings are pictured about 1950 from the vantage point of where the Catholic Diocese and Parking Garage now exist.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral was eventually used as a community center and finally removed about 1960.  Today the space formerly occupied by the Cathedral is a parking lot owned by Freemasons hall.

In 1991, the Masonic Temple (Freemasons Hall) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places - #91000273.

For most of the buildings history, it was used exclusively for fraternal events - and many Fort Wayne citizens are still under the mistaken impression that it remains the case. We're pleased to be able to share these historic facilities with the community of Fort Wayne.

Your rentals are vital to our on-going efforts of building preservation and allow us to make many important facility upgrades.

 

(Special thanks to the BMG Group for Detailing this brief history of The Freemasons Hall)

Welcome to our page devoted to the Estey Opus 2525 "Cash Register" Pipe Organ, installed on or about July 1, 1926. It's really difficult to put a price tag on this almost one of a kind gem. Manufactured in Brattleboro, Vermont by the Estey Organ Company, this organ was donated by Laura Bass in honor of her husband John Bass.

"...the organ (and the building) is eminently worthy of preservation and restoration. It would be a crying shame to see it deteriorate further. It is a true history piece for the Masons, Fort Wayne and the Estey Organ Company.

The organ is essentially 100% original, right down to the "chimney type" heaters in the blower room and chambers, and most of the mechanicals are in easily restorable condition. Blown by a Spencer Orgoblo of about 2 HP (three phase), it has ventil chests, a little unification (flute - per BoB Nickerson) and some tubular pneumatic action (mainly for offsets). It has non-speaking facade pipes in a typical arrangement for a 1920's instrument.

It still has the original generator (39 amps at 10 volts if I remember correctly - compound wound) driven off the blower for action current (more about that later). The really amazing thing is the "Estey Luminous Console" is complete - my readings in this area indicate many of these consoles are missing most of the button tops and have been modified. This one is all there and many of the lamps still light - there are a few problems but nothing that can't be repaired or worked around."

John Foell

Embassy Organ Restoration Crew

Copyright 2017