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Lost Waterfront Splendor

The old Masonic Temple, now sadly gone despite being a registered National Historic Landmark, graced the riverfront in downtown Fairbanks until its collapse from neglect in the winter of 2018. The building, over time, grew in size. The original portion was the first one-third facing the river and was minus the fake tin façade. Built in 1906, the upper story had two bay windows that overlooked the river and served as the residence of Dan A. McCarty and his wife, Belle Dormer. The downstairs housed the Tanana Commercial Company which was run by the McCarty family. In 1908, the building was sold to the Masons who remodeled it:

Fairbanks Daily News July 6, 1908

LODGE ROOMS SOON READY

The Masons of Fairbanks are taking great pride in their newly completed lodge-rooms, being built here now, which are certainly the most commodious of any in the North.

The building, formerly owned by the Tanana Commercial company, was purchased a short time ago by the Masons. Another story has been added and will be used exclusively for lodge rooms; the lower part will be rented or mercantile purposes.

The main hall of the rooms, beyond all doubt, will be the prettiest in the city, being 60 x 32 feet in size with diased platforms extending around all sides. Two large locker rooms lead from one side. These are 3 x 7 feet.

Leading from the stairway to the main hall are two large ante-rooms. These are nicely fitted up, being steam heated and carpeted. There are several doorways leading into the banquet hall and other smaller rooms, which finally connect with the main lodge room. The banquet hall is 20 x 30 feet. It is the first room from the head of the stairway. The parlor and reception rooms are in the front of the building, facing the river. Specially selected Brussels carpets have been ordered from San Francisco for the floors, and luxurious furniture will be placed in the rooms.

This work is being completed by what is known as the Masonic Building Association, and the funds are secured by the purchase of shares by Masons throughout the Tanana.

The contract with the carpenters has been completed and the work accepted. Everything was done in first class shape and the men have even paid for their work.

An agreement has been made with the Odd Fellows so that they will have the rooms at different intervals for their meetings.

Note: It is sad that this icon of the Fairbanks waterfront was allowed to crumble and had to be destroyed. The Pioneers of Alaska fought this same kind of neglect and destruction during the 1950s, leading to the establishment of Pioneer Park to save many of the buildings in our gold-rush town from being razed and burned as a result of the urban renewal projects by the City of Fairbanks. Sadly, the loss of the old Mason Hall has taken us one step closer to looking like any other town of similar size in America. This sad History Nugget has been brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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