West End Masonic Temple
The West End Masonic Temple was a 3-story, 19,000 square foot lodge and office building located at 1436 Tuscaloosa Avenue in the West End of Birmingham. It was constructed for the West End Lodge No. 753 in 1926 and was designed by David O. Whilldin. The building once served as a focal point in the West End community. However, by the late 1960s, the structure was largely abandoned and falling into a state of disrepair.
By 1994, the city of Birmingham paid $410,000 for the structure with intentions of renovating it into a community center. However, the structure was decimated by a fire on January 1, 1996. Taking 60 firefighters to control, after it was extinguished, a homeless man was killed in the blaze as he was sleeping on the 3rd floor of the abandoned structure. Its remains were subsequently demolished between June and July 1998.
The West End Library (2007) is now located atop the former site of the temple. A historical marker can be found in the library telling of the now demolished temple. The text of the marker is as follows:
Text of marker
The West End Masonic Temple built by Lodge No. 753 once stood on this site and was locally significant for its association with the growth of free masonry in the early 20th century. Formed in 1912 with sixteen charter members, the lodge had increased to 350 members in 1926 when the temple was constructed. The erection of the new structure coincided with a statewide period of growth and prosperity for the fraternal organization that also saw the construction of two other temples in Birmingham in the early 1920s.
The temple was located on the corner of Tuscaloosa Avenue and 14th Street and faced south. Constructed in the classical revival style in yellow brick with a stone and terra cotta facade on the ground level, it was the most ornate structure in the neighborhood. Matching pairs of recessed Doric columns on the front corners rose an impressive two stories to support an entablature that surrounded the building on three sides. A frieze engraved with Masonic symbols ornamented the entablature. From the beginning, the first floor was reserved for commercial use while the two upper floors housed the Masons dining hall and auditorium.
This particular temple grew and served the community for 59 years. The Lodge paid the mortgage on the building in 1954 and actively used the temple until 1985 when it was sold to a Lodge member. It remained in use for professional offices and businesses until it burned on New Year's Day 1996. The temple was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 1987.
- Ruisi, Anne. (July 22, 1998) "Temple comes down" "Birmingham News".
- Ruisi, Anne. (February 21, 2007) "New library opens today" "Birmingham News".