Temple architecture

Zanesville Masonic Temple contained a wealth of architectural detail

Many medium to large towns have gathering places for the Masons, or Freemasons, the century-old fraternal organizations that celebrate the local stonemasonry guilds who helped build these same towns.

Prior to its fiery destruction Thursday night in downtown Zanesville, the six-story stone and brick Masonic Temple building at 36-42 N. Fourth Street was a prime example of the skills employed, enabling the structure to origin to outlive its nearest neighbors. Its cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1902.

The building had two main facades, built in the neo-Renaissance style. The one facing Fourth Street, towards the Muskingum River, is what appears in most of the photographs. The other, facing south, opened onto a park, which no longer exists, but which served as the facade of the county courthouse.

The building was designed by Oscar Cobb & Son of Chicago and constructed by Robert H. Evans & Co. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 25, 1990.

The building had a variety of uses. In the 1980s, there was a licensing office on the first floor, shown in old photographs from the National Archives Catalog database. It housed banks, insurance companies and a music store.

The north and east sides of the building had exterior fire escapes, reminiscent of an era of less stringent building and fire codes and before the advent of sprinkler systems.

The interior, built in the Egyptian Revival style, featured a treasure trove of ornate carvings, a photograph showing a terrestrial globe placed atop an ornate column extending from the ground to a first-story stair landing.

Ornamental carvings from antiquities included faces of ancient gods and palm trees carved into columns flanking a speaker platform in the pavilion room on the sixth floor.