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St. Johns Lodge Masonic Temple

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1803, 1830, 1846, 1860, 1876, c. 1887. 50 School St.

The massive wooden hulk of this meeting hall is out of scale with its mostly residential neighbors, at least partly because of its numerous additions. The lodge was initiated in 1749, and foundations for this temple may have been started as early as 1760 from plans drawn up by Peter Harrison. There was, however, nothing above street level until the 1803 building was constructed (by J. Cahoone and Sons, a local builder) at the corner of School and Church streets, to a different design. This structure was subsumed and augmented innumerable times as the lodge continued to grow in the nineteenth century, reaching its present configuration by 1887. The allusions to a masonry fortification in the flat-topped entry tower, fringed with carpentered crenellations and flanked by two projecting, gabled wings, may be a visual reference to Solomon's Temple, the historic edifice that is central to Masonic rites. Although no longer used as a Masonic lodge, it is the oldest such building in Rhode Island and the fourth oldest in the United States.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "St. Johns Lodge Masonic Temple", [Newport, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 539-539.

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