Historic, Mysterious Building Throws Open Its Doors

By Eric Olson

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 9:30 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana--For ninety years it’s towered over traffic on Washington Boulevard and for nearly that long Fort Wayne’s Masonic Temple has been a mystery to much of the city. But no more.

“I have Mason’s come that want to go through this building that were from everywhere,” says building caretaker Ed Snyder. “I had a guy from Spain not too long ago. Had a guy from Scotland.”

Ed Snyder says he Loves showing the building off and there’s a lot to show. This is the magnificent auditorium on the top floor, built for observing Masonic ceremonies…beautiful walnut trusses holding up the ceiling…the entire room lit by Tiffany cut glass chandeliers. Among the floors below, the Wayne Lodge room for the Mason’s monthly meetings, the temple’s charter from 1823 hanging in the corner. Even the social room for leisure time sports walnut paneling and its original painted ceilings. The Mason’s is a men’s fraternity…the motto is ‘Make Good Men Better’. And despite common perception, this fraternity is non-denominational.

“We’re not pushing any particular religion,” Snyder says. “If a brother is a Muslim I’m quite comfortable with that. Am I a Muslim? No, I’m a Christian. But he’s still a brother.”

Photographs of lodge members past and present cover the temple walls. Many of the men who built Fort Wayne are here…names like Rudisill, Calhoun, Hanna, Brackenridge…John Bass of Bass Foundry fame was a Mason..his wife Laura gave the temple its pipe organ in John’s memory. This once secret building is now very much open to the public; you can rent these halls for weddings, graduations, parties and other events. Ed Snyder says that helps pay the bills, helps maintain this building he loves so much, this living history museum, for generations of Masons and others yet to come. Eric Olson reporting out in Your Country.

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