Corner of Gates and Bushwick
Block 3339, Lot 19
|1054 Bushwick Avenue (2011) Credit: Dianne Pierce O’Brien|
Year Built: 1920
Building Type: Institution (Fraternal Hall)
Architect: Koch & Wagner
Builder: Thomas Drysdale
Original Owner: Ridgewood Masonic Lodge, No. 710
Proposed District: Bushwick Avenue Historic District
The Ridgewood Masonic Temple is one of a few important social organizations that existed in the Bushwick neighborhood and is a highly significant building within the context of the study area due to its unique architectural character and its strong cultural and historic associations. It is highly representative of the neighborhood’s continuous social and cultural development, first illustrated by the formation of late nineteenth-century institutions like the Arion Singing Hall. The building is a reflection of the diverse social heritage of the neighborhood, as well as the diversity of mixed-used buildings that are characteristic of Bushwick Avenue. Additionally, the building is the only Beaux-Arts style building in the study area. The style asserts and identifies the building’s original use, and further strengthens its contextual importance.
The building was designed by the Brooklyn architectural firm of Koch & Wagner. Arthur R. Koch (1874-1952) and Charles C. Wagner (1876-1957) had formed a partnership in 1910 which they maintained until 1951. Both men were born in Brooklyn and graduated from Pratt Institute, and both men served terms as president of the Brooklyn chapter of the American Institute of Architects. They had a long and productive career, specializing in commercial designs for urban environments. They are associated with several churches and commercial buildings throughout Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the neo-Tudor style residence of Ralph Bunche in Kew Gardens, Queens. They are perhaps most well-known for their many bank buildings, like the East Brooklyn Savings Bank, designed in the Beaux-Arts and neoclassical styles.
The Ridgewood Lodge No. 710 of Free and Accepted Masons is comprised of the union of three lodges: the Ridgewood Lodge No. 710, instituted June 17, 1870, Cypress Hills Lodge No. 1064, instituted June 10, 1926 and Star of Hope Lodge No.430, instituted April 9, 1857. The Ridgewood Lodge first met at 943 Gates Avenue in nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant before commissioning this temple headquarters in 1919.
The lodge was originally associated with the Master Masons of Brooklyn, which was divided into numbered districts. Later, the Masonic organizations were divided based on geographical districts. In the twentieth century, almost half of the Masonic lodges of Kings County met at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, at the corner of Clermont and Lafayette. However, because the Ridgewood Lodge occupied this building as its own temple, it can assumed that the lodge was among the more active constituencies in Brooklyn in the early twentieth century. The Ridgewood Masonic Lemple moved out of this temple building a number of years ago, relocating to the Astoria Masonic Temple in College Point, NY. The building is currently vacant and was most recently used as an event space. The building is currently for sale and is a prime candidate for adaptive reuse.
The four-story institution is built of buff-colored brick and designed in a simplified Beaux-Arts style. While the level of ornament is a bit more understated than larger institutional buildings of the era, the buildings expresses many of the principle architectural characteristics that define the Beaux-Arts style, including strong symmetry, classical details, and arched windows. Also typical of the Beaux-Arts style, the building has a rusticated raised first story that is clad in limestone and a central entry on the north (Bushwick Avenue) facade that is flanked by ionic columns and crowned by a simple canopy and balustrade. Other significant features include a terracotta cornice with a simple egg and dart and dentil banding details below, marble panels that ornament the outside bays at the fourth floor level, terracotta panels that illustrate Masonic symbolism and decorative scroll keystones that decorate the windows at the third floor level, and a terracotta belt course that incorporates “Ridgewood Masonic Temple” in the center of the facade at the third floor level.
Overall the building is in relatively good condition. Portions of the limestone base are soiling and in need of minor cleaning. The building retains many of its original windows, which are in poor condition. The paint has worn off, which has left the wood exposed and deteriorating.
Bushwick History Article from the Brooklyn Paper
Ridgewood Masonic Lodge History
- ^ “Ralph Bunche House Designation Report.” Landmarks Preservation Commission (LP-2175) New York, City of New York, 2005, Prepared by Virginia Kurshan.