Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Masonic Temple

Known to Detroiters simply as “The Masonic,” the Masonic Temple Auditorium is the most visited venue within the Masonic Temple building. Since opening in 1926, it has welcomed millions of guests to enjoy a broadly diverse selection of ceremonies, graduations, concerts, plays, movies – even early Detroit auto shows. The auditorium is part of the greater Masonic Temple building, which was built under the architectural firm of George D. Mason, to serve as a home for the Masonic Fraternity in Detroit. Ground was broken in 1920, and in 1922 George Washington’s trowel was used to lay the cornerstone for the building, in a large ceremony.

The auditorium boasts over 4,400 seats and one of the largest stages in the nation. Fine acoustics are matched by detailed ornamentation in the Venetian Gothic style, with intricate interior work inspired by sculptor Corrado Parducci. Due to its capacity and sound quality, the hall has hosted programs as diverse as violinist Jascha Heifetz, rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and bluesman B.B. King. In addition to Michigan Opera Theater presentations, dramatic offerings have ranged from Sweeney Todd to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

From 1936 to 1942, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra broadcast the popular Ford Sunday Evening Hour from Masonic Temple Auditorium. Each week Detroiters were invited to sit in the audience free of charge and the performances were aired on radio stations nationwide.

The auditorium is only a small part of the largest Masonic Temple in the world – encompassing more than 12 million cubic feet. Architects from George P. Mason Company designed it to house 47 distinct Masonic orders, in addition to serving Detroit as a civic center. The Masons are Detroit’s oldest social organization, dating to Zion Lodge #1, which was founded in 1764.

Behind its imposing Gothic façade, the building houses cathedrals, chapels, numerous dining rooms and offices, two large ballrooms, a library, a drill hall and two auditoriums. The 1,037 rooms reflect a variety of decorative styles, from Corinthian to Art-Deco, and a beautiful collection of art and artifacts is exhibited throughout the building.



Photo of the Masonic Temple, 1975 - 2012.032.030

Drawing of the Masonic Temple, 1920s - 1948.203.001

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