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[graphic] Ferris Grand Block
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[photo] Ferris Grand Block, now the Pipestone Performing Arts Center
Courtesy of Lorraine Draper

The Ferris Grand Block was designed by Leon Moore, responsible for many of the town's buildings, for A. D. Ferris in 1898. The 32 foot by 90 foot, three-story Sioux quartzite building has a checkerboard patterned frieze, alternating pink and red quartzite and a roof comb. The building originally possessed a tablet bearing the Ferris Grand name, which was removed in 1916 and replaced by a block with "AF & AM" etched into it when it was purchased by the Masonic Bodies. Other carved stones were also removed at the time. In 1917, the Masons moved in, after which time the building was also referred to as the Masonic Temple.

East Main Street, c.1900, Ferris Grand Block second building from the left
Courtesy of Pipestone County Historical Society

Originally the building contained two stores on the first floor, the Ferris Grand Opera House on the second floor and a balcony on the third. At its grand opening on March 10, 1899, the opera house boasted seating for 800 on the main floor and balcony, and was said to be the largest and finest facility of its kind in this part of the state. Following its purchase by the Masonic Bodies in 1916, the second floor was remodeled into clubrooms. At that time, Leo Henke, an itinerant artist, was hired to create murals of ancient Biblical scenes on the upper walls of the large room. The scenes include the building of King Solomon's Temple, the Sea of Galilee, and the Mount of Olives. Forty-five feet high and 55 feet long, these paintings have been well preserved. An arch connected the two stores on the first floor in 1909. The S&L Store occupied this area for 62 years. In 1958 the front facade was remodeled with large maroon tiles, matching the annex to the west.

The Masons were very active in community affairs, causing one historian to comment that railroads and Masons developed the city of Pipestone. A former Grand Master Mason of the Pipestone chapter said that when he was a boy in the 1930s, every businessman on Main St. was a Mason save two. Still active in Pipestone, the Masons today offer guided tours of the murals to share their beauty with others. Following extensive remodeling to the interior, the Pipestone Performing Arts Center opened in the Ferris Grand Block in the spring of 1993.

The Ferris Grand Block is located at 106 E. Main St. and is open to the public during performances at the Performing Arts Center. The murals in the Masonic rooms may be viewed by appointment. The box office number is 507-825-2020. Bus groups and tours can call 507-825-5537.

[graphic] Link to essay on Pipestone County History [graphic] Link to essay on Downtown Revitalization[graphic] Link to essay on Pipestone: The Rock

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