Masonic Temple

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This article is about the 1922 downtown Masonic Temple building. For other uses, see Masonic Temple (disambiguation).
The Masonic Temple c. 1965

The Masonic Temple was a grand four-story granite-clad Neoclassical-style building which housed offices for a number of Masonic Lodges and related organizations, as well as a small theatre and a large, 3,100-seat auditorium, which soon became a landmark public theater operated by the Loew's Vaudeville chain.

The building was erected on the southeast corner of 19th Street and 6th Avenue North with the auditorium entrance at 517 19th Street. Construction of the building began in 1921, with President Warren Harding present for the laying of the cornerstone. It was built by the Smallman-Brice Company, and opened in 1922.

The Temple's main auditorium, designed for Zamora Shrine ceremonies, was used to screen films as early as December 1923 when a revival of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" had an extended run. It was converted into a Vaudeville theater by the Loew's chain in early 1925, after which it combined regular Vaudeville productions with large meetings, "legitimate" theater, and concerts. Its role was largely superseded by the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, which was completed in the early 1970s.

The Masonic Temple building was demolished in September 1970 by the First National Bank of Birmingham and used for parking until the construction of the AmSouth-Harbert Plaza. Five chandeliers from the theater were saved and donated to Samford University for use in the new Leslie S. Wright Performing Arts Center. Bryant Electric restored and installed the fixtures at the behest of Dr and Mrs Thomas Thuss.