Masonic Temple

The modern 1967 Masonic Lodge stands on the same site as the earlier 1906 Temple lost to fire.

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

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. Source: Lewis "Red" Kittell Date: ca. 1906
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. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1906
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. Source: Dick Dreiling Date: ca. 1907
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. Source: Dick Dreiling
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. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1922
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. Source: Neal Cobb Date: 1925
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. Source: Neal Cobb Date: 1930s
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. Source: Neal Cobb Date: ca. 1940s
Under construction, 1967
Under construction, 1967 After the fire in 1965 that severely damaged the original Masonic Temple, the old structure was razed and a new building was constructed on the same site. A photo taken of a UNR homecoming parade in 1967 captured the new Masonic building then under construction. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1967
Masonic Temple, 1960s
Masonic Temple, 1960s The Masonic Temple burned in 1965 and was replaced with a new modern structure, which opened in 1967. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1960s
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. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014

Location

11 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Mella Rothwell Harmon, “Masonic Temple,” Reno Historical, accessed June 14, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/62.