Masons have been active in Fort Collins since 1870. Over the years, Collins Lodge 19 grew and moved to larger quarters all shared with other organizations or businesses. In 1921, the Masons, now 600 strong, felt they could afford a freestanding temple. A committee quickly purchased a lot on the southeast corner of Howes and West Oak Streets and began planning their building.
They chose William N. Bowman, a well-known Denver, Colorado architect, to design the temple. Bowman had designed major buildings across the state, including the Weld and Jackson County Courthouses. The building design was an example of Classic Revival architecture well suited for the traditions of a Masonic temple. On October 14, 1925, the cornerstone was laid, with about 125 Masons in attendance.
Mark Miller, an early and long-time Fort Collins photographer was hired to take photographs of the construction process. The Fort Collins Archive has the photographs, including the one shown below that they allowed Barbara Fleming and me to use in our book Fort Collins: The Miller Photographs.
The photograph shows a partially completed building, with materials being delivered by horse and wagon. The building took a while to construct and furnish, and it wasn’t until June 29, 1927 that the new temple was complete and opened to the public for the first time.
The postcard is dated June 10, 1929, on the back. It seems that the temple must be decorated for the 1929 July 4th celebration. The unusual circle on the left side of the building seems not to be a part of the decorations but rather some artifact from the developing and printing of the postcard.
On February 28, 2008, the Fort Collins Masonic Temple was added to the Colorado Registry of Historic Properties. The required nomination form describes the 77 by 103-foot building in detail. Below is the paragraph that describes the front entryway.
“The most prominent facade feature is the shallow central portico formed by six two-story tall Tuscan columns supporting a pediment. Leading up to the entry are three flights of stairs of three, five and seven steps with metal balustrades. This numeric step pattern represents Masonic symbolism. Within the portico, the entrance consists of three double doors each surmounted by a transom and pediment. Aligned above the entries are three tall narrow lattice windows with transoms. The portico frieze contains the inscription “MASONIC TEMPLE.” The tympanum contains a circular engraving of the Masonic crest–the compass, capital “G” and carpenter’s square.”
Here is a recent photograph that shows the step pattern and a closer view of the columns.
Tuscan columns are simple, unfluted shafts, with simple circular bases and capitals, with little or no carvings or ornaments. Considered strong and masculine, Tuscan columns originally were used for utilitarian and military buildings.
Below are two more images of the Fort Collins Masonic Temple, one from around 1953 and one from 2010.
The nomination form also mentions that the alterations to the building, over its life have been minor. That is borne out by the 2010 photograph of the structure. The building is still in use by the Masons, though it is now surrounded by commercial buildings, such as the First National Tower on the left, rather than homes.