#TBT: Detroit’s Masonic Temple

masonic temple auditorium detroit

masonic temple, photo by ryan southen

On April 27, 1764, a charter for the “Zion Lodge of Masons, No. 1” – the first Masonic Lodge west of the Alleghenies – was granted to Masons in Detroit. Since I’m going to see Portugal the Man/Cage the Elephant there next weekend, that’s close enough for me to learn a little bit more…

Detroit’s Masonic Temple (aka The Masonic) is the largest building of its kind in the world. Construction began in 1920 and was completed in 1926. They explain:

By 1908, interest and membership in Masonic fraternities had grown to such an extent that the Masonic Temple Association of Detroit began to consider either enlarging the existing Masonic Temple on Lafayette Boulevard or building a new, larger facility.

Land on Bagg Street (now Temple Avenue) was acquired and by 1920, the architectural firm George Mason and Company had completed an integrated design of a multi-function complex. Ground was broken on Thanksgiving Day, 1920. The cornerstone was laid on September 18, 1922, during a ceremony attended by thousands of Detroiters, using a trowel previously used by George Washington during the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

Significantly, the opening of the theater was celebrated during a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ossip Gabrilowitsch, on February 22, 1926–George Washington’s birthday. The formal dedication of the building took place on Thanksgiving Day, 1926. Once again, thousands of Detroiters were present for the ceremony.

George Mason’s unique design included three theaters (one was never completed, but is sometimes used by movie-production crews), a Shrine building, the Chapel, eight lodge rooms, a 17,500 square foot drill hall, two ballrooms, office space, a cafeteria, dining rooms, a barber shop, 16 bowling lanes–1037 rooms in total–in addition to a powerhouse that generated all electricity for the complex.

Mason also incorporated the artistic conceptions of the sculptor, Corrado Parducci, in the building’s magnificent lobby, which was an adaptation of the interior of a castle he had visited in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci also designed light fixtures and chandeliers, decorative arches, medallions, plaster decorations, and a myriad of other artistic details that are unique to the many varied spaces in the building.

Head over to The Masonic for lots of panoramic tours and also a panoramic view of the Corner Stone Laying. Also, if the name George Mason rings a bell, click that link to learn about this prolific architect whose works include Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel!

View Ryan’s photo bigger, see more in his HDR slideshow, and follow him on Facebook at Ryan Southen Photography.

PS: Lots more Michigan architecture on Michigan in Pictures.

PPS: It’s also supposedly very haunted!

Lapeer Courthouse, oldest in Michigan

Downtown Lapeer MI

Downtown Lapeer MI, photo by paula liimatta

Wikipedia says that the the Lapeer County Courthouse is the oldest original courthouse structure still in use in the state of Michigan, and one of the ten oldest in the nation.

The City of Lapeer’s history page adds:

Folklore claims Lapeer was derived from the naming of the south branch of the Flint River, which flows northwestward over quite a long distance of rocky bed in Lapeer County. French and Indian traders frequently passed over this section of the county and through the river, ultimately naming our city for the stone that lay at the river bottom. The translation of stone in French is “LePierre”; the English translation of Canadian French accent of this word is “Lapeer”. The river was named Flint, synonymous with stone.

Lapeer County was once part of the Northwest Territory. By an ordinance of the Congress of the United States passed July 13th, 1787, the whole of the territory of the United States lying northwest of the Ohio River, though still occupied by the British, was organized as the Northwest Territory. In January of 1820 the County of Oakland was formed. Governor Lewis Cass set Lapeer County’s boundaries on September 18th, 1822, although it remained part of Oakland County until it was organized. Lapeer County officially became a county on February 2nd, 1835.

Read on for more and click for information about renting the courthouse.

View Paula’s photo background big and see more in her 2016 slideshow.

Happy Birthday, Tiger Stadium

Michigan and Trumbull

Michigan and Trumbull, photo by Joel Dinda

Over on Absolute Michigan there’s a feature entitled 100 (plus) years at Tiger Stadium. It has a ton of photos and links including this excellent column written four years ago by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports about the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium passing relatively unnoticed:

Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness.

…Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.

Read on for more.

View Joel’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his 7/11/1999 – Brewers vs Tigers slideshow.

Here’s a great video from PBS’s America’s Ballparks hosted by Jeff Daniels and featuring many Detroit Tigers greats.

More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

Miner’s Castle, before it fell

Miner's Castle before it fell

Miner’s Castle before it fell, photo by spauldi1

Today is the 10th anniversary of the collapse of one of the turrets on the Miner’s Castle formation in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

On Thursday morning, April 13, 2006, the northeast turret of Miners Castle collapsed. One turret remains on Miners Castle, the best-known feature of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The collapse was reported via cell phone by fisherman in the area, according to chief ranger Larry Hach. Most of the rock fell north and into Lake Superior, and there were no injuries. The lower overlook platform near Miners Castle appears to be unaffected.

While the rockfall at Miners Castle on April 13 was startling, such events are not rare along the Pictured Rocks escarpment.

Click for the full report on Absolute Michigan.

Sue took this back in 2003. View it background big and jump into her slideshow for more pics from “before the fall”at Miner’s Castle.

Sixth Street Bridge in Grand Rapids

Built for Horses Sixth Street Bridge Grand Rapids

Built for Horses, photo by Rudy Malmquist

News that the Michigan Department of Transportation is testing drones for bridge inspection reminded me that I was asked to share more of were “bridges other than than the Mackinac Bridge.”

Historicbridges.org is an excellent resource, and their entry for the Sixth Street Bridge in Grand Rapids begins:

The Sixth Street Bridge, with its long 544 foot length excellent physical condition, is a fitting tribute to its builder, the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon Ohio. Constructed in 1886, this bridge is made of wrought iron. This bridge is one of the most important historic bridges in the entire state of Michigan, since it is the longest pin-connected highway truss in the state. Also, Michigan only has a few truss bridges that are more than one span in length, and most of those are two spans. A four span bridge in Michigan is thus extremely rare for its unusually long length, for Michigan. The bridge is also significant for the length of its individual spans. The bridge has three spans that are 154 feet in length. This is a very long span length for a pin-connected Pratt truss, and is among the longest in Michigan.

…Construction of the bridge began in 1885, when the piers and abutments were constructed. These, with approaches, cost $11,084.95. The wrought iron truss superstructure was erected in 1886 by the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio, costing $20,281. This made the total cost of the bridge $31,365.95.

Read on for much more.

Rudy adds that this is the oldest metal bridge in Michigan. View his photo bigger and see more in his Neutral Density slideshow.

More bridges on Michigan in Pictures.

Coast Guard Aviation Centennial

Coast Guard Centennial Helicopter 6517 Traverse City

Welcome home “Coast Guard 6517”, photo by US Coast Guard Traverse City

Air Station Traverse City officially kicked off the Coast Guard Aviation Centennial this week. They received 1 of only 8 MH-65D helicopters adorned in the centennial “throwback” paint scheme. 2016 is the 100th year celebration of Coast Guard Aviators.

You can see the chopper at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City along with the USAF Thunderbirds and read more on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Aviation Centennial page.

View the photo bigger on Facebook where you can click for a couple other views and be sure to follow the Traverse City Air Station – they really share some amazing shots from their work over the Great Lakes!!

#TBT: Beer Wagons Leaving Detroit’s Goebel Brewery

Goebel Brewing Company

Beer Wagons at Goebel Brewery, photo courtesy David Tinder / Up North Memories

Don Harrison writes:

SE Detroit MI Heavily laden Beer Wagons prepare to leave the Goebel Brewery to quench the thirst of late 19th century Detroiters … AWESOME Photo from my good friend David V. Tinder and his friends at the U of M Clemens Library “Tinder Collection”.

View the photo bigger on Facebook and join the Up North Memories Photo Postcards Facebook group for more great old photos from Michigan!

The Wikipedia entry for the Goebel Brewing Company adds:

Goebel Brewing Company was a brewing company in Detroit, Michigan from 1873 to 1964 eventually acquired late in its existence by Stroh Brewery Company. The beer was locally popular in Detroit from the company’s inception, but grew in popularity and was eventually available in many states for a brief period in the 1940s, with an ad campaign in Life magazine that featured restaurant ads from many famous eateries around the country using Goebel beer as an ingredient. The beer, billed as a “light lager”, was golden in color, and was noticeably drier than most everyday beers of the era. Their longtime mascot was a bantam, called Brewster Rooster, who wore attire with Goebel’s logo, and the beer was a long-time sponsor of Detroit Tigers baseball broadcasts on radio.

Prohibition forced the closure of the brewery in 1920 though the space was rented out to various industries. In 1932 the company was reorganized. Though Prohibition was repealed in 1933 the brewery would not begin new production until the Spring of 1934. Otto Rosenbusch, the retired brewmaster from Stroh Brewery Company, was brought on to help Goebel compete against his old employer at Stroh’s and his son Herman who was the head brewer there. Upon the elder Rosenbusch’s passing in 1935, Charles Elich, the brewmaster at the Pabst Brewing Company agreed to become both the brewmaster and superintendent at Goebel.

You can also check out some old Goebel cans and be sure to watch the commercial below – it’s a gem and an early example of a brewery marketing to women.

More historical photos on Michigan in Pictures.