Masonic Temple

By 1905, the old Masonic Hall on Commercial Row was no longer adequate for the growing membership and responsibilities of Reno Masonic Lodge No. 13. The new building commanded a prominent position at the northwest corner of the new Virginia Street Bridge, formerly the site of a livery stable. It was yet another expression of Reno’s growing maturity. The officers of the Grand Lodge of the State of Nevada placed the cornerstone on the building on September 16, 1905. The Temple was an elaborate two-tone, three-story Romanesque structure. The members must have swelled with price when they attended their first meeting on December 8, 1906. In addition to serving as the Masonic Temple, the building housed retail stores on the ground floor. A four-story expansion wing facing West First Street, designed by architect Russell Mills, was completed in 1955.

On August 15, 1965, a fire broke out in the Nevada Bank of Commerce, which was housed in the Masonic Temple. Smoke and water affected other shops in the building, and ultimately, the Masons decided the damage was too severe to be repaired. The old building was razed in 1966 and a new building constructed on the site. The style of the new building conformed to the spare, modern design of the 1950s addition. The $850,000 rebuild project included commercial units on the ground floor, offices on the second floor, and the Masonic lodge facilities on the third floor. The Masonic Temple building was back in service by April 1967.

The Reno Masonic Center spans both buildings with an address of 40 W. First Street. Freemasonry has played an important role in Nevada’s history. Lodge No. 13 was Reno’s first. Today, there are six lodges in Reno and one in Sparks.

Images

Under construction, ca. 1906

Under construction, ca. 1906

Construction of the new Masonic Lodge, underway in 1905, was easily viewed from the streetcars that ran down Virginia Street and over the neighboring bridge. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Postcard, ca. 1906

Postcard, ca. 1906

The graceful curves of the Virginia Street Bridge, constructed in 1905, paired nicely with the arched window details of the new Masonic Lodge. Image courtesy of Lewis "Red" Kittell View File Details Page

Masonic Temple, ca. 1907

Masonic Temple, ca. 1907

Detail from a panorama postcard. The combined post office and federal building across Virginia Street (the site in the foreground) had not yet been constructed. Image courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

A busy thoroughfare

A busy thoroughfare

The view looking northward along Virginia Street reveals the Masonic Temple to have been one of the most substantial structures in the downtown area. Image courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

Masonic Temple, 1922

Masonic Temple, 1922

Looking southward past the Masonic Temple across the Truckee River, the Riverside Hotel can be seen. The hotel burned down later that year. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Wilson's Drug Store, 1925

Wilson's Drug Store, 1925

The Wilson Drug store was located on the first floor of the Masonic Temple from 1906 to 1954. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

Masonic Lodge, 1930s

Masonic Lodge, 1930s

Dentist and law offices long occupied the second floor, while the first floor featured retail establishments like Brundidges Art Supplies and the Grey Shop. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

Nevada Bank of Commerce, ca. 1940s

Nevada Bank of Commerce, ca. 1940s

From the 1940s through the 1960s, the Nevada Bank of Commerce occupied a prime location on the building's ground floor. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

Masonic Temple, 1960s

Masonic Temple, 1960s

The Masonic Temple burned in 1965 and was replaced with a new modern structure, which opened in 1967. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Reno Masonic Center, 2014

Reno Masonic Center, 2014

Today the newer structure to the right and the four-story annex built in 1955 are joined and serve the needs of several Masonic Lodges and appendant bodies. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

11 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Mella Harmon, “Masonic Temple,” Reno Historical, accessed July 26, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/62.

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