Saturday, September 20, 2008

History of the Masonic Memorial Temple in Brisbane

This document was found by the Lodge of Research Librarian inside a book on loan from the UGLQ Library. The document was compiled by the Restoration Fund Committee for the Board of General Purposes U.G.L.Q in December 1981


The creation of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland as the one Sovereign Masonic Authority in Queensland on 27th April 1921 achieved the "full, perfect and perpetual union" of Freemasons in Queensland. After many years of serious division the formation of the U.G.L.Q. and the spirit of unity it engendered led immediately to plans for a rosy future.

Less than two months later, on 21st June 1921, a proposal was put to Grand Lodge "that a centrally situated piece of land be procured and a suitable Masonic Temple be erected thereon in commemoration of Peace and Masonic Unity. The Board of General Purposes gave immediate consideration to this proposal and on 7th December 1921 recommended the purchase of a site at the corner of Ann Street and Hutton Lane. The site had a 77 ft. frontage and was 148 feet deep. Following the acquisition of this land a further 6.3 perches was purchased in December 1922 to make the site symmetrical. The total cost of this land was 6,874.

On 1st of March 1922 a Temple Committee was appointed to devise ways and means of financing and building a Temple which would provide an appropriate meeting place for Grand Lodge, accommodation for the growing number of Lodges, and an administrative centre for the Craft in Queensland.

In March 1925 Grand Lodge unanimously made the final decision "that the Grand. Lodge resolve to build a Temple".

Meanwhile, in June 1923 Queensland Architects had been invited to submit designs for a Temple. Sixteen designs were received. Prizes totaling 350 were awarded to the best three designs submitted. Eventually, the final plans were prepared in 1927 by the Grand Architect, V.W. Bro. L. L. Powell, P.D.G.D.C. (of Atkinson, Powell & Conrad, Architects).

The design provided for a building with five levels - four floors and a basement. On the top floor there was to be a Grand Hall 91 ft. x 72 ft. 6 in. x 32 ft. between floor and ceiling. An Organ/Choir Loft was to add a further 28 ft. to the length of the Grand Hall. The first and second floors provided for two large and two smaller Lodge Rooms and corresponding refreshment rooms, while on the ground floor there were rooms for the Grand Master, Grand Secretary, a General Office, Board Room, Library, and various service rooms. The floors were to be connected by winding marble staircases on either side of central foyers for each floor.

Situated on the ground floor in the centre of a large circular vestibule was to stand the Urn of Remembrance to Brethren who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the Great War. The design of this area was one of great beauty and simplicity. Caretaker's quarters and storage areas in the basement completed the design of the interior.

On the exterior the front of the building was to be dominated by six fluted Corinthian columns, each 5 feet in diameter and rising four storeys high.

The Temple was to be built of stone, reinforced concrete, brick and marble. Its initial design was such that the foundations and walls would carry extra storeys in years to come, if necessary.

Based on this design tenders were called for the building of the Temple. The successful tender out of the thirteen received was that of Wor. Bro. Geo. A. Stronach, Builder. His tender price was 101,171. Building operations commenced in May 1928.

Earlier, on Anzac Day, 25th April 1928, M.W. Bro. Justice Charles Stumm, G.M., had laid the Foundation Stone. He had been Grand Master during most of the years of planning but sadly he did not live to see the magnificent fruit of his labours for he passed to the Grand Lodge above on 28th February 1929.

The laying of the stone took place on Anzac Day at the request of A.I.F. Memorial Lodge. This date was considered particularly appropriate - not only because of the Memorial nature of the Temple, but also because the last week in April included three important Masonic Anniversaries:

25th April 1904 - Formation of the Grand Lodge of Queensland;
30th April 1920 - Formation of the Queensland Grand Lodge;
27th April 1921 - Formation of the U.G.L.Q.

The cost of the Foundation Stone was donated equally by nine Lodges - the first three Lodges of each of the old English, Scottish and Irish Constitutions.

By August 1930 the building was almost completed and furnishing was under way. The furniture throughout was made from Queensland timbers - silky-oak, maple and cedar. A magnificent pipe organ was installed in the Grand Hall and in addition there were five other organs and four pianos. A ventilation system was installed.

Finally the Temple was completed. The total cost was land: 6,874; Building: 113,000; Furniture: 10,000 - a total of 129,874 ($259,748).

In a ceremony on 9th December 1930 His Excellency Bro. Sir John Goodwin, Governor of Queensland, unveiled and dedicated the Masonic Memorial Urn.

On Wednesday 10th December 1930 at 7 p.m. the Official Opening of the Temple was perfonned by the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. William Herbert Green. The Temple was dedicated as a Memorial to Fallen Brethren, as a symbol of Masonic Unity throughout the State, and as a monument to Freemasonry in general. As part of the ceremony the President of the Board of General Purposes, R.W. Bro. F.G. Nevill, P.D.G.M., presented the M.W. Grand Master with a symbolic key to the Temple.

At 8.15 p.m. five Dedication Ceremonies took place concurrently. The M.W. Grand Master and Grand Officers dedicated the Grand Hall, and teams of Past Grand Officers led by M.W. Bro. Alexander Corrie, P.G.M., M.W. Bro. R.N.F. Quinn, P.G.M., M.W. Bro. A. Hertzberg, P.G.M., and R.W. Bro. E.W. White, P.D.G.M. dedicated the four Lodge rooms.

The week of ceremony and celebration concluded on the following Sunday when Brethren and their ladies attended Services conducted by Grand and Acting Grand Chaplains in all of the Halls.

(As time marched on, the Memorial nature of the Temple was to include Brethren who fell in subsequent wars.)

The financing of building the Temple was something to which all Queensland Freemasons contributed. Grand Lodge contributed directly from its Reserve Funds, and mortgages were taken out on the Alice Street and Ann Street properties. Members paid a levy for a ten-year period from 1925 to 1935, a number of individuals made generous personal donations, and the Hall-Stone Jewel Fund was inaugurated whereby Lodges made further contributions. In all 117 Hall-Stone Jewels were presented. The total amount raised through these avenues by October 1930 was 73,760/8/11d. The balance was covered by a bank overdraft, using Accumulated Benevolent Funds as security, to be repaid by 1940.

Our Grand Hall, with a seating capacity of 1,200, is unique in that even today it is the only dedicated Grand Hall within the whole of Australasia which is capable of accommodating a Grand Installation.

In the years since the Memorial Temple was dedicated the lifts have been modernised; also the ventilating system was replaced by an air-conditioning system (second-hand) in 1948 at a cost of approximately 7,000. Electronic organs have been installed in the Lodge Rooms, and additions have been made to kitchen appliances. Apart from these items very little other than essential maintenance has been carried out, and the ravages of 50 years of time have left their mark.

The National Trust has listed our beautiful Memorial Temple as an historic building worthy of preservation. But even more important is the fact that it is the Headquarters of the Craft in Queensland and it is a Memorial dedicated to those Brethren who gave their lives for all that we hold dear.

The Memorial Temple belongs to every Queensland Freemason.

The Masonic Memorial Temple Restoration Fund was established in order to preserve the heritage left to us by those Brethren of 50 years ago. They gave unstintingly (in extremely hard times) in order to build the Temple. Can we do less than ensure that the Memorial Temple is restored to its rightful glory?

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