Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21

On December 5, 1875, Masons in Meagher County chartered Valley Lodge No. 21 (A.F. & A.M.) in Centerville, a farming community just north of present-day Townsend. The lodge moved to Townsend in 1884, shortly after the Northern Pacific Railroad platted the town. From 1884 to 1947 the Masons met in rented spaces, first over a store and then in the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Hall. U.S. entry into World War II delayed their plans to construct their own building. Believing that it was more important to maintain “American Liberty” than to “consider our own comforts and pleasures," the lodge decided in January 1942 to invest the money it had saved for the building in defense bonds. After the war, Helena architect Herbert Jacobson designed the lodge in the Minimal Traditional style. More common to residences than public buildings, the style, which emphasized simplicity, grew out of the need for inexpensive but well-built homes. Although lacking the ornamentation seen on earlier Masonic temples, Jacobson’s design did incorporate two quintessential Masonic elements: a cornerstone with the Masonic symbol and a second-story, windowless room where the Masons could perform rituals away from the public eye. Contractors, working with Masonic volunteers, completed the building for $30,000. They used up-to-date materials that exemplified postwar vernacular architecture, including asbestos shingles on the exterior and, on the interior, vertical knotty pine tongue-and-groove wainscoting and fiberboard (Homasote) and plywood paneling. Dedicated in 1948, the temple served Lodge 21 until 2017.

Images

Map

131 South Spruce Street, Townsend, Montana ~ Private