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Masonic Block

701 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/05

Masonic Block, exterior view, 2004; City of New Westminster, 2004
oblique view
Historic view of the Masonic Block, exterior view, ND; New Westminster Public Library, NWPL 2544
oblique view
No Image

Other Name(s)

Masonic Block
Hart Building
Hart Block

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1899/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Masonic Block is a Romanesque Revival-style structure with a chamfered corner entrance, clad in brick and rusticated stone. Built on a steeply sloping site, it has three storeys on the front facade and two storeys at the rear. It is located on the north side of Columbia Street, at the corner of Lorne Street with a rear frontage on Clarkson Street, in New Westminster's historic downtown core.

Heritage Value

The Masonic Block is significant for its contribution to the consistent and distinctive built form of Columbia Street, which dates from 1898 to 1913, when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industry for the booming Fraser Valley area. The first building on this site was the massive Masonic and Odd Fellows Block of 1887, designed by George W. Grant (1852-1925), a prolific architect who designed much of the built environment in downtown New Westminster. This first building was destroyed by fire in 1891. When the block was rebuilt in 1892, the two societies completed their own individual blocks, with the Masons taking the eastern part of the site. They again chose Grant as their architect, who designed a three-storey brick and stone structure. The 1892 building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1898, but a large portion of the foundations and walls were left intact and were used in the reconstructed building, designed by Grant for the third time. The resulting structure is an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival style and retains many details from the earlier block, including the arched entrance on the side facade to the upper floor meeting hall for the Masonic Lodge.

Additionally, the heritage value of this structure is associated with the early presence of the Masonic Order in New Westminster. The Masons are the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world, and represent virtually every occupation, profession and ideology. The first Masonic Lodge on the British Columbia mainland, the Union Lodge #1201, had been established in New Westminster in 1860. From 1887 until 1912 the Masons met at this location. This Temple would have been an important component of early community building as a place for professional, business and trade professions to meet on an equal level. The Masonic Block is a significant example of a Late Victorian era fraternal hall. Typical of such a design, there is street level retail space that could be rented out to benefit the organization.

The Masonic Block is also valued for its associations with Frederick John Hart. In 1908, the Westminster Trust and Safe Deposit Company and F.J. Hart Real Estate Company purchased this building. Under the supervision of architect F.G. Gardiner, a renovation of the Masonic Block was completed which added a third storey and incorporated the adjoining Adams Block/Odd Fellows Hall. F.J. Hart (1868-1945) was a wealthy land developer who had a wide range of business, civic, and political interests. His real-estate company managed many of the land sales in the area and numerous other large developments throughout the region; he was also a 'public spirited citizen' and served as a New Westminster alderman. After the Westminster Trust built its own block next door, this building was renamed the Hart Building.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Masonic Block include its:
- location on a prominent sloping site at the corner of Columbia and Lorne Streets, with a frontage on Clarkson Street, part of a grouping of late Victorian and Edwardian era commercial buildings in historic downtown New Westminster
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- stepped form, three-storey height, chamfered corner, flat roof with raised parapets and cubic massing
- masonry construction, including the sandstone foundation from the 1892 Masonic Block, brick cladding concealed under a later coat of stucco, and sandstone trim
- Romanesque Revival style details such as its round arched entry and round arched windows at the side entrance; roughed-dressed stone mouldings and trim; and engaged pilasters
- entablature with Masonic motifs at cornice and roofline
- sheet metal cornices and brackets
- regular fenestration, including double-hung 6-over-1 wooden-sash windows

Recognition

Jurisdiction

British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date

2004/04/05

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1908/01/01 to 1908/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building
Community
Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club

Architect / Designer

George W. Grant

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

DhRr-151

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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