Yuma Masonic Temple

Temple History

During the year 1900, a number of the Masonic brethren resident in Yuma and its vicinity had numerous confabs as to the formation of a Lodge. On December 18, 1900, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Arizona, George Montague, granted a dispensation to open a lodge of Freemasons and appointed the following officers to serve until a Charter was obtained: George M. Williams, (Worshipful Master); Herbert Brown (Senior Warden), and Edwin M. Reese (Junior Warden).

In November 20, 1901, a Charter was granted and the following officers were duly installed: Herbert Brown, (Worshipful Master); R. H. Chandler (Senior Warden), H. S. Laughlin (Junior Warden), D. L. DeVane (Treasurer), R. S. Patterson (Secretary); Chas M. Smith, (Senior Deacon), W. F. Timmons, (Junior Deacon), George H. Bailey (Steward), and Charles Johnson (Tyler).

Shortly after the granting of the Charter, the Lodge purchased twenty shares of a building and loan association in Tucson. A year later the stock was sold and the proceeds were used to purchase a lot and hall formerly owned by the Ancient Order of United Workmen that was located at 244 S. First Avenue on the north side of the Methodist church (now the Christian Science Society).

methodist church image

yuma masonic temple 1931

Construction of the current Masonic Temple began on May 3, 1930, with the laying of the cornerstone on June 1st. The Temple was designed by Los Angeles architects Edward Gray Taylor and Ellis Wing Taylor in the Modernist Art Deco style, which was gaining popularity at the time. It was located on Lot 9, Block 95, Yuma Townsite at 153 S. Second Avenue, northeast of the Yuma County Courthouse built two years earlier.

The three story Temple is constructed of reinforced concrete, rectangular in configuration with a flat roof. The corners are bounded by massive piers and the two principal facades are symmetrically arranged with fluted pilasters rising from the base of the second story. It was completed in 1931.

In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, the Lodge lost all of its funds due to a bank closure. At the stated meeting held on November 16th of that year, the members voted to deed the new Temple to the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company in satisfaction of a $16,900 realty mortgage. Ten months later an agreement was made with PMLI whereby the Masons would rent the Temple with the option to repurchase it. On May 10, 1940, the temple was re-deeded to the Masonic Lodge.

The Yuma Masonic Temple is one of the few significant Modernist Art Deco Style buildings remaining in Yuma.

The period termed "art deco" manifested itself roughly between the two world wars, or 1920 to 1939. The style strove for a modern and artistic expression to complement the machine age. Identifying features are smooth wall surfaces, often stucco; smooth-faced stone and metal; polychromic, often with vivid colors; forms simplified and streamlined; geometric designs including zigzags and chevrons; towers and other vertical projections presenting a vertical emphasis; machined and often metallic construction materials for decorative features.

Both inside and out, Yuma Masonic Temple retains nearly all of its original design. In 1999, the building was placed on the Nation Register of Historical Places. The integrity of its historic fabric and design makes it a noteworthy landmark that contributes to the character of the historic district. 

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