The Historic Masonic Temple is a three story brick building located on the corner of 5th and Main Street in Winona, Minnesota. The Masonic Temple was constructed in 1908 and 1909 and designed by Philadelphian architects Warren Powers Laird and C.F. Osborne.
The Masonic temple, as a whole, was built to house a number of Masonic members and events, with the first floor designed to provide a social and community space open to the public. A reception area and two-story auditorium can be found on the second and third floors, complete with a stage and balcony.
Within the auditorium, a three-manual Weikhardt organ, purchased in 1910, can be found. Although the organ is currently not in use, its presence is still significant.
Even more significant, is the fully functional stage with original stage scenery that still remains. Among the stage scenery are 98 hand painted scenic drops and several free-standing theatrical props. The drops were designed by Sosman and Landis of Chicago, procured by M.C. Lilley and Company of Columbus, Ohio, and installed under the direction of Lilley’s western representative, Bestor G. Brown of Wichita, Kansas. When grouped in various combinations, the individually numbered drops create 59 stage scenes. The drop collection is the largest of only two such collections remaining in the state.
In 1979, the Winona Masonic Benevolent Association sold the building to the City of Winona for the purpose of creating a senior citizen center. The lower level is now home to the City of Winona’s Friendship Center. Theatre du Mississippi rents out an office space on the third floor and their performances take place in the auditorium. The Masons still have offices in the building and use the auditorium space on a regular basis.
‘Friends of the Masonic’ is a citizens group focussed on the preservation and restoration of the Historic Masonic Theatre, its building, and its collection of historic painted scenery. Please join us and share your ideas about how we might assist the City in preserving this historic building and the drops collection. www.facebook.com/groups/279822072207056/