Maplewood History: Once Upon A Time We Had A Temple

Don’t it always seem to go
You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?
From “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell

The history of Freemasonry (whose practitioners call themselves Masons) is long and complicated. Google it. The list of famous members is also long and mostly male since the Masons were fraternal organizations for most of their history. George Washington was a Mason as were Mark Twain (in St. Louis), Buffalo Bill and Winston Churchill. And don’t forget about Perry. (That last joke may be lost on the younger readers).

At the local level the Masons have been organized by the Lodges to which they belonged. In Maplewood we had, fittingly enough, the Maplewood Lodge #566.  If there was ever a building that we should’ve kept…

I took these photographs of the demolition of our Masonic Temple in July of 1984. It is still painful to look at the destruction of this fine building. I remember talking to local architect, Andy Kusnierkiewicz about it at the time. I believe Andy was on our Planning and Zoning board then. Membership at the Lodge had declined. Many of the members were old men who couldn’t afford to keep up the building any longer he explained.

In 1984 the preservation movement was much younger. Many restoration techniques that we take for granted today had yet to be developed. Although it was a lot easier to get rid of asbestos. No one except the manufacturers were aware of how hazardous it is.

A very fine building came down that July only to be replaced by a couple of buildings that no one is ever likely to love or will miss. First the Shoney’s restaurant was built. After Shoney’s closed the building was adapted for use by the adjacent car lot. That building was demolished to build a much larger example of the same sort of forgettable architecture to house the present CVS Pharmacy. Equally forgettable on the south side of CVS is the now vacant T.R.Horton’s.

Take a look at the following photos.  Then you may want to repeat after Joni.

Here we have an image of a very nice building.  Solid and built to last.  Good stone foundation and stairs.  Low maintenance brick exterior with cut stone appointments.  This vintage image is from a 1952 program that follows.

The program is for a minstrel show. I won’t go into a long discussion about minstrel shows and how inappropriate they seem to us today. They were part of our history. Many, many great people are working very hard to eliminate things that separate us.  I take my hat off to them.

The cast of minstrel shows typically contained no African-Americans. The first three images in this post are from the collection of Martin Fischer.

This aerial view shows the Temple location in relation to some of the buildings that still exist. The building just to the east once was home to Holekamp Lumber and was the longtime home of the St. Louis Closet Company. It now is the home of Side Project Brewing.  At the bottom of the photo we see the very interesting metamorphosis of the Sarah Harrison mansion into todays Jay B. Smith Funeral Parlor. None of the other buildings have survived.  On the corner across the street is the second City Hall and Fire Department.  On the SE corner is a collection of four buildings that I have never seen in any other photo.  Collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

This is a photograph I took in July 1984. If it looks familiar, I’ve run it before and it’s in our community history book (still available at the C of C). It is one of about a dozen photos I made at that time with two different cameras. Recently I’ve been trolling through a small part of the ocean of slides and prints in one of my closets. I came on these quite unexpectedly. I’ll load as many here as the site will allow.

This image of the front door is also in our book. The arched window was rescued by Yours truly and Dan Walper of Citizen’s Bank. It is now in the collection of the Building Arts Foundation.

I believe I pilfered this image from the Building Arts Foundations website or Facebook page. That is most likely Larry Giles piloting the fork lift.

The ground level door on the eastern side of the building. Until I say different this and the following images have not been shown before.

The western elevation.

Cornerstone.  1924 to 1984.  60 years.  What a shame.

This view was probably from the Jay B. Smith parking lot looking west.  That is the Side Project Brewing building at right.  The date my camera printed on the image is visible.  84  7  17  July 17, 1984.

As seen from the White Castle parking lot. The White Castle building has been replaced since this image was made.

This image was made standing on Hazel Avenue and looking north at the rear of the building.

This time the view is from across the street, Manchester.

The cornerstone at its current location at the Building Arts Museum. I have run this image and the next two in the past.

This is some of the cut stone ornament from the parapet that was still at the original site when I took this photo. Larry Giles later tracked down the owner and brought these pieces to his museum.

One last never before published photo of one that should not have gotten away.

It’s sadder yet when you look at what replaced it. This is the former Shoney’s building being used as headquarters for a car lot in this 2007 photograph. It has since been demolished and replaced by the CVS store.

 

 

40 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Once Upon A Time We Had A Temple

  1. I think one of the issues with how a building is constructed with the large parking lots has a lot to do with the corporate image of the company built building. If you drive thru any town and see an newer abandoned building you can just about guess what the building used to be. Think the shape of a Taco Bell or McDonalds or the orange roof of the old Howard Johnson. You can pick them out. It makes sense. You don’t really have to know where the building is exactly located if you can recognize the building, don’t have to be able to read the signage and it can be done just about anywhere in the USA. Plus think of how much easier it is for the company to build 100 stores all the same, about the same size, same layout. After the first 10 they have all the bugs worked out and know exactly what the building is going to cost, how long it takes to build and they often have crews that build several in one area so they can do so quickly and get the building open as soon as possible.

    Now what I find interesting is how much power a corporation has when it wants to put a store in a town. They basically can hold the town hostage playing our town off against the neighboring town with the promise of lots of tax revenue, lots of jobs, lots more people showing up to your town. Some of those people that will show up for that new business will be people that cause increased traffic problems, demand an increase in police activities, trash, etc. I have never really followed the money closely but suspect that the tax revenues and jobs and people are often inflated to make it seem like such a great deal. As far as the jobs I know we have people that need employed but do we really need so many more minimum wage earners? I guess it may not be as bad as I think because I know of folks who make a career out some of the fast food places starting at one spot and working their way up. The number of workers that is listed is often quite high it seems to me and I suspect that is supposed to include the lumberyard that might have to hire an additional yard person or fork truck driver to get the orders out for those 100 stores, it might also include the 100 employees that the store hires the first 3 months to try to find the 25 that will stay with the company and actually do the jobs they are supposed to do.

    If I as a developer wanted to come to a town and say build 25 new homes and say it will provide so many jobs, raise so much in taxes, bring so many new people to shop at our town and as the city to give me everything I want so often including TIF money do you think I could get it. Probably not enough clout.

    Long enough rant but trying to say I don’t know how much the city can “demand” of a company who wants to build here especially if we want them to build here.

  2. Thanks for the links, Doug. Very impressive. Wow! I’m a brand newcomer to the 40 South News. I must seem so ignorant. This is going to be great fun though to read everything you’ve written. Thanks again and a big hello to Arlene.

    • No worries, Liz. Welcome aboard. Just goes to show how difficult it can be to get the word out about something like 40 South News even in a small community like ours. I have 180 posts on just the history of Maplewood on this site. Additionally out in the ether are earlier posts that I did for two years on a site called Maplewood-Brentwood Patch. These will sometimes pop up if you search for something specific like Saratoga Lanes, for example. Prior to that I supplied photos and info to the City of Maplewood’s Facebook page for two years. As far as I now there is no way to recover those. Don’t hesitate to comment or add information to any of the older posts on this site. You can effectively reignite the conversation that way. Enjoy.

  3. Mark, I spoke to my mother and she confirmed that the Masonic records from Lodge 566 went along with the group when they consolidated with Webster. Along with the large pieces of furniture involved in ritual. However, …….immediately before the building was demolished, my dad insisted on salvaging anything humanly possible that could be fit into the pickup truck. So, for days we descended on the Temple and cleared that baby OUT! They made a tidy sum from the things we rescued. We didn’t just take stuff, for the record. We did pay for it, but I clearly remember unscrewing porcelain soap dishes, light fixtures shelves, you name it. It sickened us to think of it falling to strangers, so we actually incorporated in into our homes. When I first read this article, I looked around the house and laughed. I had gotten so comfortable with the things around me, I had almost forgotten. But I’m gratified we were able to save so much from being lost or trashed. They are things that didn’t warrant being donated, but in an odd way part of the Maplewood Masonic Temple still survives. As long as it makes my father smile down, I’m happy with the memories.

  4. Doug, thanks so much for all the kind words about my mom and me and our shop “The PDs”. We had a great run and miss it every day. We’re so sorry about your loss of little Miss Dixie. What a sweet puppy-person and a great rescue success story. You gave her a much needed, loving family and an escape from abuse and neglect. I’ll never forget leaving snacks for her on the window ledge after hours. Ah, community! I’m gratified to know you still have the big Masonic window. We really never intended to part with it but it proved to be almost impossible to incorporate into everyday home decor without major finageling. You know, there are just so many stories about Maplewood’s history, I hope you continue this into a series. The Powhatan show, The Saratoga, Katz drugstore, Harper’s. “What it was, what it is now”. That would be a jaw dropper for the younger residents. We had places that served “real” French fries!

  5. “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot…”. Had to finish it. Shelley, that parking lot used to be the home of the area’s famous Goldie’s department store until the late 60s-early 70s. Ask any older native Mapleweed and they’ll tell you the whole story. What a neat place and great loss. We were living overseas at the time, but I seem to remember a fire. Maplewood was a hopping town and the place to be back when. On Friday night “downtown” Maplewood stores were open late, there was a movie show and 3 dimestores with soda fountains. Fun times! I agree with your philosophy of trying to maintain a town’s integrity not simply for the visual impact, but for posterity as well.

  6. I’ve always wondered what once stood where the CVS is. It’s painful to look at! Something that really bothers me about development in Maplewood is that new business are allowed to construct buildings with massive parking lots out front. This is what ruins the feel of the community. I couldn’t believe that they let the very recent Cain’s restaurant do the exact same thing! What a lost opportunity! When these lots are redeveloped it is an opportunity to move the buildings to the street and recreate that old feel. SO EASY TO DO! PARK BEHIND!!! This is a massive peeve of mine. In my hometown of San Antonio, TX they are making a major effort to build on the street and it is helping dramatically. My dream – that they would develop the South side of the Shop N Save parking lot along Manchester. That parking lot is ridiculously huge and it would be so great to see small businesses there like there once was.

    • Shelley, I couldn’t give you a blow by blow on why newly developed places are configured the way they are but there are plenty of folks who could. We have some clever people on our city council and various boards, many of whom, I’m betting, feel the way you do. Buttonhole them and find out why we often allow these car friendly businesses to do what they want in our walking community. Our mayor, Barry Greenberg, is a strong advocate for a people friendly community. You should talk to him. I also hope there is some thought given to the Shop’N’Save site. Post S’N’S that could be a spot for some incredibly cool development to happen. Another site that could hold a great people friendly development is the site of the current Volvo dealer. It is a large space…mostly parking lot now and so close to the civic center, city hall, fire department, library and pool. Perhaps the Volvo dealer would like to move over to our new luxury car alley on Hanley?

      • Yes I would love to talk to Barry about this! He lives one street over from me. Hopefully we can start to move in this direction, I’m sure it’s difficult to make those changes and set it in motion… but it would be so great to see. Thank you so much for all of these great articles. One question, what is the C of C?

  7. Mark, I must apologize, I certainly didn’t mean to sound accusatory toward you. I think I automatically get my hackles up because there is so much misunderstanding regarding Freemasonry. Sometimes people want to believe or assume the worst about things they don’t understand. There is a great deal of mystery involved in the rituals, but truly nothing sinister as is often thought. It is true that one needed to request to be accepted into the fraternity, but because of historical and lifestyle changes, things have loosened up a bit. Used to be only the Promenade part of the building was kept private, but the rest was generally open. I know my family salvaged a great deal before the building was sadly destroyed, but I’ll have to speak to my mother to see if we have any pertinent records. The actual Lodge consolidated with the one in Webster Groves, so any records of importance would have gone with them.

    • Liz, thank you very much for shedding light on these “secret” organizations. You have first hand knowledge which I certainly don’t. It is good to hear from you again. I hope you and your family are doing well. For readers who don’t recognize Liz’s name, she and her mother, Em, both talented artists, ran the Peddler’s Daughter shop on Sutton for many years. My wife and I are lucky to have several of their hand painted items and antiques. Liz, you might have guessed by now but that dog we got through you, we had to let her go after about 16 enjoyable years with her. It still makes me sad to write that. Thanks.

    • Elizabeth,
      all is fine, no apology needed. I know very little about the organization other than the small lodge that was in my hometown when I was a kid. I had heard supposedly dark mysteries about it so I am sure others did also. I actually associated it with other things I did not understand at the time and knew that things like our church did things differently than another church, that the Boy Scouts had a oath and almost any organization has some things that those outside the group might not know about. I appreciate your input tho and would like to see if you or anyone else associated with it would continue this topic just for the history.

  8. Thanks for the memory–and there is a strong artistic feeling in many of your photos~~

    • Well Phyllis, I don’t know how you can tell from these sort of record keeping shots of the Temple but I hope it shows up in some of the others from past posts. It is just an awfully nice thing for you to say. I appreciate it very much.

  9. My grandfather, John Scattergood, was a member of that lodge and probably one of the charter members. I briefly went to Rainbow Girls there. It is sad that those buildings are being torn down. The one in Brentwood was torn down too but it was a very ugly building. The new firehouse is there now. The one in Clayton was replaced by 3 huge homes. Of course, these lodges did make some money selling the buildings and I think all 3 of them merged into the Webster Groves lodge whose building is still standing and i also quite lovely.

    • John Scattergood! I like that name. Did he live in Maplewood? I don’t know a thing about the Rainbow Girls, Charlotte. Can you fill us in? Thank you for your interesting observations.

      • Yes, my grandfather came from England and settled in Maplewood. They lived on Sutton where the Shop and Save is now. First he built a 2 family flat and then later the house next door. My mother and her sister grew up there. They sold the flat and the house when they built Kmart.. I grew up in Brentwood but loved to spend time at their house so I could go down to the dime stores and Katz drug to shop. Oh, Rainbow girls is an organization for teenage girls affiliated with the Masons. There are also Job’s Daughters for Girls and Demolay for boys and Eastern Star for women.

  10. Hi Doug, Liz French from the old “Peddler’s Daughters ” on Sutton. If you recall, we had our business in the defunct Moose hall, another great Maplewood building with quite an interesting history. I remember and greatly miss the lovely Masonic Temple. My father Pinckney “Dusty ” Rhodes was a lodge member there for years and Master I can’t remember how many times. My family spent many happy hours there with good friends from the Masonic community, cooking, eating and celebrating great times. That was a spectacular building and it was a shame Maplewood lost it. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. It was an unexpected treat. BTW, all of the so-called dark, mysterious secrets associated with the Free-Masons are a myth. Many fraternal organizations have private rituals, but people have grown to assume that because they are private, there must be something wrong or dastardly about it. There’s much great history involved. If you have questions about it, just TALK to a Mason for clarification.

    • Elizabeth, I was not trying to imply anything wrong or dastardly but do remember about the idea of you had to be a member to be involved. That is not so much different from most organizations. Do you know what happened to all the history of the place, surely there are some pictures and some written history about the lodge.

      Doug, the organization I was thinking was called the Renaissance Society that was first interested in saving the history of Maplewood that I was aware of and for a while was a member of. A lot of photos and information that the library has came from them. I believe the library has a slide show that they made for maybe the 75 anniversary of the city. They had an annual house tour for a number of years to show off some of the homes, both large and small, that Maplewood has. And we did a plant sale for a number of years as a fundraiser to support the organization and to encourage people to plant and beautify their yards. They also had a small library of magazines and books you could use to look at for information and inspiration which used to be the way you did it before we had the internet. It was not a large group but I remember Art Lively and Andy Knusnivich (don’t know how to spell his last name) and Pat Trout were members as were others.

      • Hey Mark,

        Liz French in her two responses explained the situation much better than I could.

        I was working during the years of the Renaissance Society and for that reason wasn’t a member but I knew several of them. Bill McCoy was a very close friend. I knew Andy Kusnierkiewicz and can spell his last name (I think). You are correct that they did produce a slide show for our 75th anniversary in 1983. I digitized many of the slides in 2007 while working on our community history book. All of the images I used are credited to the Renaissance Society on the photo credits page at the end of the book. I got to know Elmer Wind Jr. (EJ Tire), also once a member, while working on the book. He is a Maplewood original. One of a kind.

        • Doug,
          I was kind of wondering why you weren’t involved with the Renaissance Society. I had forgotten about Bill McCoy and Elmer Wind. There were others who’s names I have forgotten. One was a lady who went by the name Doe who lived on Gayola I think. Another was George and Susan Powell I believe.

          Our house was on one of the house tours and we have the little plaque on our front door. I have seen them still displayed on other front doors around town from time to time. Our house was one of the work in progress house to show what you might encounter if you had to remove the lath and plaster to insulate or rewire and such in a home. As I recall we had maybe 2 rooms done completely and all decorated nicely and one with a trash can full of lath and a pile of plaster on the floor and tools spread around to show what you might run into if you bought an old house and wanted to do upgrades. Andy K had a printing press in his basement that he would do a little booklet to give ticket holders with a brief description of the house and location and off the folks who bought a ticket went to look at the 10 or 12 sites yearly.

  11. Doug, from what i understand about the Mason’s was they were what was considered a “secret” society so any interior shots may not exist. But I have seen examples of them by being in another Masonic Lodge. I recall ornate chairs for the leader of the group, nice furniture, lots of nice woodwork in the one I was in, flags and banners.. Maybe Dan has a few pictures or some other Masonic Lodge member.

  12. With any building it seems the big issue is “location, location, location” as well as whether it can be repurposed. Why does one historically or architecturally significant building survive while another does not? Well… going back to my first sentence. I lament these losses.

    • I do too, Gary Lee. We’ve come a long way since 1984 but we still don’t seem to be able to save parts of our historic fabric that are really important. Have I mentioned the cabinetry of the Harper’s Pharmacy?

  13. My dad , who grew up at 2615 Lyle Ave. met my mother at a dance at the Masonic Temple in 1936. I use to attend the County Observer Christmas parties when I had Observer routes from 1952 to 1954.

    • Jim, You truly had a personal connection to the building. I’d love to have digitized copies of those St. Louis County Observer newspapers that you once delivered. I seem to recall that the Observer was located on Sutton. Thanks for sharing your recollection.

  14. I remember this building very well. I was inside a few times. I grew up across the street on Lyle Ave. I can also see the Sutton Home in your picture.

    • Guy, By “Sutton Home” I’m assuming you mean the Sarah Sutton Harrison home that was converted into the Jay B. Smith Funeral Parlor. Thank you for your remembrance.

  15. Nice pictures. I grew up in Brentwood in the 1970s and 1980s and don’t remember that lodge building at all. I’m assuming that once the it was torn down it became the Sambo’s or Po Folks (or whatever it was before the CVS).

    • The site was used for a Shoney’s restaurant. Thanks for your compliment and comment, Todd.

  16. We still need to be concerned about all the buildings owned by fraternal organizations. The Egyptian-style University City Masonic Temple on Delmar is now being used successfully by Scientology, but the similar building at Natural Bridge & Garrison is in ruins. The Clayton building on Brentwood north of Maryland went down last year with almost no notice. The future of the Tuscan Lodge on Kingshighway is uncertain, and the mid-century modern Optimists Club building at Lindell & Taylor, my favorite, has been close to demolition more than once in the last few years.

    • That is a sad state of affairs, Esley. Let’s hope those buildings can get the attention they deserve. Readers of this space are probably aware that Esley Hamilton, now semi-retired, was for many decades the historian of St. Louis County and beyond, working for the St. Louis County Parks Department. His input is always welcome here.

  17. I really enjoyed this post! Great photos too! Very sad though that a building as great as this one was torn down. Would have been neat if they could have converted it or something.

  18. Doug, I remember that building. A couple of things that you mention is that historical preservation was not such a big thing as it seems to be now. Not even sure if the Maplewood Historical Society was around yet but probably was in it’s infancy. Yet I have to say thanks for saving what you guys did. How did you guys get to accomplish that? Seems like a story in itself.

    I do not recall the exact demo of the building but I thought it came down pretty quickly. Do you recall was it taken down and other parts saved or was it all just tossed into a dumpster and hauled away. Were there interior things also saved such as doors and floors. lights? You have any inside shots of the place?

    • Hi Mark, I do not have any interior photographs. By the time I took these the building was too dangerous to enter. I saw no evidence that any of the parts of the building were saved other than the few external parts I’ve mentioned.
      There was no Maplewood Historical Society at the time this building was demolished. The MHS existed only from around 2001 or 2 until 2006 when it completely disappeared. I had resigned from the board at the end of June that year.
      There was no coordinated effort to save those building parts. Larry Giles acts independently. I don’t know who first had the arched window. I first saw it in the Peddler’s Daughter antique shop on Sutton. I bought it for our historical society that was meeting in a building on Manchester owned by Sunnen. The C of C was located there and gave us a bit of space. When they had to move I put the window in the city garage for want of a better place to keep it. Without my knowledge, Dan Walper saw it there and took it to his garage to restore it. I believe he was a Mason and was concerned about what happened to the window. I found out about this and told him about the other parts of the building being at the Building Arts Museum. He agreed to let me take it there. It got there in a very convoluted way but that is a good place for it.