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.