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Masonic Temple
Photo courtesy of City Development, City of Asheville, North Carolina

The Ancient Free and Accepted Mason is a fraternal order with a worldwide membership, thought to have arisen from practicing stone masons and cathedral builders in the early Middle Ages. The lodge, first formed in early 18th-century England, is the basic organizational unit. Philadelphia Lodge, formed in 1730, is the oldest Masonic lodge in the United States. The Mount Hermon Masonic Lodge of Asheville was chartered on December 13, 1848, with 107 members, and counted numerous civic and political leaders among them. The lodge had no formal meeting place for more than 50 years until 1909, when the 500 members passed a resolution to acquire a site for the Masonic Temple.

The local architectural firm of Smith & Carrier designed all the fraternal organizations in Asheville, including the Elks Home, Eagles Home and the Asheville Club. The Masonic Temple, designed in 1913 and occupied in 1915, is the only fraternal building that retains its original use. Fronting on Broadway, the striking edifice features robust brickwork and is dominated by a tall portico of paired Ionic columns and a three-story, blind arched window on its Woodfin Street side. The first floor includes offices, fireproof vaults for Masonic records, lodge rooms, banquet hall, massive fireplaces and columns of iron. The second and third floors are used for gatherings of the Masons and the Scottish Rite.

In the years following the completion of the Temple, Mount Hermon Lodge realized Asheville was becoming a health resort, and a committee of doctors suggested that sojourning sick brethren be given attention, which led to the foundation of Asheville's Good Samaritan Mission. The Lodge set an example for the Mission in 1918, during the terrible Spanish influenza that swept through the country, when the members turned over their entire lodge as a hospital for ailing African Americans in Buncombe County.

The year 1920 marked the temple's highest membership with 800 members, which led to the formation of new lodges. As the oldest fraternal organization in western North Carolina, the Mount Hermon Lodge was instrumental in the creation of 40 other Masonic temples in the region.

The Masonic Temple is located at 80 Broadway St., at the corner of Woodfin Ave.,within the Downtown Asheville Historic District. The building is not open to the public.

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