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Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Montana Museum - Helena, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 35.468 W 112° 02.406
12T E 420324 N 5160255
Quick Description: More than just a Grand Lodge, this Art Deco Masonic Grand Lodge also houses a library and the Grand Lodge of Montana Museum.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 3/27/2019 9:54:27 PM
Waymark Code: WM109P4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member ZenPanda
Views: 1

Long Description:
The first recorded meeting of Masons in what is now Montana was on September 23, 1862 when three brethren with the first Fisk Expedition, then camped on the Mullan Road at the summit of the Rocky Mountains opened and closed a lodge of Master Masons. The Virginia City Lodge, holding its first meeting on February 27, 1863, was chartered October 20, 1864, by Grand Lodge of Kansas as Virginia City No. 43. On January 24, 1866 it joined with Montana No. 9 (now No. 2) and Helena City No. 10 (now No. 3) to form the Grand Lodge of Montana, chartered January 26, 1866 by the Grand Lodge of Montana as Virginia City No. 1, at Virginia City. At that time Virginia City was the Montana Territorial Capital and in 1868, when Virginia City was fading and Helena booming, the Grand Lodge was moved from Virginia City to Helena. Seven years later, in 1875, Helena became the Territorial Capital.

Designed by Master Mason Chandler Cohagen of Billings, the Art Deco styling and bright beige stone of the Grand Masonic Lodge tends to contrast nicely with the nearby Italianate and Romanesque buildings. Since the fire of 1874 the Masons had intended to build for themselves a “more stable and commodious office", but this did not come about until the laying of the cornerstone for this building on July 18, 1936.

425 N. Park - Grand Masonic Lodge - 1935 - Art Deco - primary
From the NRHP Registration Form
The Grand Lodge Office, Museum and Library were built on a former placer mining claim, the cornerstone was laid on July 18, 1936. Since that time the Library and Museum have enjoyed a growth and patronage that distinguishes it as respectable museum and library with collections of Masonic items, books and manuscripts. Some of the many valuable and historic items on display within the Masonic Grand Lodge Museum include the Masonic apron of Brother Meriwether Lewis, the hand written manuscript of Paris Pfouts (the first mayor of Virginia City) and Olaf C. Seltzer's depiction of the first recorded Masonic meeting in Montana on Mullan Pass.
From Visit Montana

Meriwether Lewis’s Masonic apron and an O. C. Seltzer mural depicting the first Masonic meeting in Montana are among the treasures displayed in “the home of Montana Masonry.” A dynamic political and social force since early territorial days, the Masons founded the Grand Lodge in Virginia City in 1866. Headquarters moved to Helena by 1868. After a catastrophic 1874 fire, Cornelius Hedges, then grand secretary, warned that the lodge needed a “more stable and commodious office than [my] coattails.” It took more than sixty years for Hedges’ vision to materialize, but in 1935 the lodge retained architect and Master Mason Chandler Cohagen of Billings to design a building to hold its increasingly significant collection of books, photographs, and artifacts. Carved Masonic symbols ornament the windows and doors of the resulting Art Moderne museum, whose horizontal massing, smooth finish, and restrained detailing reflect the streamlined aesthetic of the 1930s. In 1937, the Masons dedicated their new Grand Lodge, which today continues to house a public museum and the Masons’ state administrative offices.
From the NRHP plaque at the building

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