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The South Side Masonic Temple is an orange-rated building, designed by Clarence Hatzfield in 1921 and located in the Englewood community of Chicago. The building was located near to one of Chicago’s most successful neighborhood retailing and entertainment districts at 63rd and Halsted, second only to State Street in the Loop. A great many of the historic structures associated with this commercial intersection have beenlost over time. The loss of the historic 63rd and Halsted streetwall has been so significant that the commanding presence of the Masonic Temple is now visible from many vantage points near this once prominent and bustling intersection.
The structure was designed in the Classical-Revival style and originally built as the home of a fraternal organization and contained multiple meeting halls and grand spaces on its interior. Its interior reflects architectural styles of the day, including Egyptian Revival, Eastern and Moorish influences and Art Deco. The building was a popular destination for fraternal meetings and community social events over time and still has a powerful presence as viewed from several blocks away. Since the 1980s, the building has experienced vacancy and a wide variety of failedproposals, including an alternate high school for inner-city youth. The South Side Masonic Temple’s close proximity to many new buildings of the Kennedy-King College Campus have led to speculation over time that the City Colleges of Chicago could redevelop and repurpose this building for an educational use and include it into their campus. A new Whole Foods grocery store has broken ground nearby at 63rd and Halsted and we are hopeful that perhaps the Masonic Temple can be part of a new vision for the community.
The South Side Masonic Temple is an extraordinary building and a long-time landmark in Englewood, despite many years of vacancy and deferred maintenance. Unfortunately, the structure, that first appeared on our Chicago 7 Most Threatened Buildings List in 2004, continues to deteriorate and is exposed to the elements. It has also been on the Chicagoland Watchlist of our sister organization, Landmarks Illinois in 2003-2004 and 2009-2010.