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.