Eau Claire Masonic Temple (E. Wheeler photo, 2006)
Eau Claire Masonic Temple side view (E. Wheeler photo, 2006)
Eau Claire Masonic Temple detail (E. Wheeler photo, 2006)
Eau Claire Masonic Temple
317-319 South Barstow Street/ 306 Main Street
Eau Claire, Eau Claire County
Date of Construction: 1898-1899
The Romanesque inspired Masonic Temple, located in the heart of Eau Claire's historic downtown commercial area, was the first building in the city of Eau Claire built specifically for use by the Masonic fraternity. Organized in 1857, the Masons included many prominent men active in the financial, social and cultural development of Eau Claire during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Masons remained in this building until 1928, meeting in the upper levels and renting the first floor to Williams Furniture Company. From the time the Masons moved to their new temple several blocks away, a succession of furniture retailers have occupied the building.
The Masonic Temple is an outstanding example of Romanesque Revival architecture and is one of the last surviving buildings of this style in the City of Eau Claire. The two-story red brick fašade features a pair of massive, rough-cut limestone arches that are the hallmark of this popular late-19th century style. The round arch theme is repeated in the Main Street entry, south fašade windows and in ornamental detailing in the cornice on the west facade. Additional distinctive decorative elements are three multi-colored glazed tile capitals atop three fluted corner pilasters. The mostly intact exterior is matched by a similarly well-preserved interior that features a curved first floor mezzanine and a second story balcony used by the Masons. The original hand-operated elevator is in place and functional.
The Masonic Temple is currently a privately owned gallery, furniture and antique shop open to the public during regular business hours.