415 Congress Street, Portland | Nominated to Places in Peril in 2012
Portland’s Masonic Temple at 415 Congress Street, Portland is one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in Maine. Completed in 1911 from the design of Fredrick A. Tompson, a leading Portland architect, this six-story, 136,000 square foot, mixed use office and fraternal building was once hailed as the center of Freemasonry in Southern Maine. The distinctive interior spaces, which are unaltered from their original state, feature vaulted ceilings, ornamental plaster, stained glass windows, and carved wood paneling. Among the most dramatic ceremonial rooms are the original lobby with its winding stairs and elevator; the Scottish Rite Reading Room with its portraits, paneling and massive fireplace; the ornate Corinthian Hall with its original H.A. Hall pipe organ, mosaic floors, original furniture, and 20 foot tall stained glass windows; and the Armory, which houses lockers for masonic regalia and can seat 200 people. This structure is believed to be Maine’s last unrestored and unmodified grand lodge building.
When completed in 1911, the Masonic Temple was organized as a mixed use commercial and fraternal building, with the idea that lease revenues from the front half of the building would help support the fraternal portion at the rear. The building was converted into two condominiums in 1989 and the eastern half of the building on Congress Street was sold off, eliminating the income stream that historically funded the building’s operation and improvements. Limited growth in membership in the masonic orders has also affected the ability to maintain and invest in the building. With limited income to fund the preservation and maintenance of the structure, the Masonic Lodge is threatened by physical deterioration. The building suffers from extensive deferred maintenance on the exterior and urgently needs a master plan to guide usage and repairs to save the structure from further damage.
The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which makes it eligible for state and federal historic preservation tax credits. Its location next to City Hall in the Congress Street Historic District and in the city’s Arts District make it one of the most important pieces of commercial real estate in Portland.
In 2009, Greater Portland Landmarks convened the Masonic Temple community planning advisory group to assist the Masons in their efforts to preserve and expand community utilization of the building. In early 2012, the Masons received approval for the Masonic Temple Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising the funds needed for improvements. With its new nonprofit designation it is a potential candidate for other city, state, federal, and philanthropic funding.
In 2012 Landmarks named the Masonic Temple to its list of Places in Peril to assist the Masonic Temple Board and new Foundation’s effort to increase awareness and use of the building. The Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau has identified a strong need for additional meeting and event spaces of the scale this building offers. In 2013 the Masons opened the lodge to events. Income from these events will help address code deficiencies and repairs, and allow the foundation to develop a financial model that will support the ongoing use and preservation of the building.
- Portland Masonic Temple portlandmasonic.com
What You Can Do
- Visit the Masonic Temple during First Friday or attend their annual open house tour to see the lodge's stunning interiors.
- Hold your special event in one of their four event spaces via Blue Elephant Events
- Join our mailing list to stay informed about our advocacy efforts, educational programs, and upcoming events.
- Support Landmarks' advocacy efforts and Places in Peril program by becoming a member or making a donation today.