Designed by Wood, Donn and Deming between 1903 to 1907, the grand Masonic Temple served throughout most of the twentieth century as the headquarters of DC’s Grand Lodge, which counted many important national figures among its members. Situated on a unique trapezoidal site created by the L’Enfant Plan’s axial dynamics, the building included space for the operations of the Grand Lodge, as well as an auditorium that offered public entertainment throughout the decades. Numerous shops and offices have also occupied space in the building during its long history.
In the 1980s, the Masons decided to move elsewhere and put the Masonic Temple up for sale. Fears that the building’s buyer would destroy or alter it were put to rest once it was purchased by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), which opened in the renovated building in 1987. While the NMWA converted much of the building’s interior to suit its new purpose as a museum, the Masonic Temple’s imposing and majestic exterior remains today.
DC Inventory: May 16, 1984
National Register: February 18, 1987