Filed Under Townsend

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

Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Front to side overview of the building, facing northeast at the intersection of South Spruce Street and B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Front view of the building, facing east on South Spruce Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Front to side view of the building, facing northeast on the corner of South Spruce Street and B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Side view of the building, facing north on B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Side to rear view of the building, facing northeast on B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Rear view of the building, facing west from the rear alley off of B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Rear to side view of the building, facing southwest from the rear alley off of B Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019
Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21 Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21. Close view of the front of the building, facing east on South Spruce Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Jon Axline Date: Apr. 2019

Location

131 South Spruce Street, Townsend, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Valley Masonic Lodge No. 21,” Historic Montana, accessed December 1, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/2816.