In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission lengthened the list of official city landmarks by adding Ridgewood Lodge No. 710, Free and Accepted Masons. Confusingly, the handsome, Beaux-Arts-ish structure is in Bushwick, not Queens; it has an interesting history, too. Once slated for a condo conversion after it fell out of disuse by the Masons, it was appropriated as a venue for concerts and some pretty epic, orgy-filled parties. Perhaps better known simply as the Ridgewood Masonic Temple, it was completed in 1920, and the commission said it "is an excellent example of early-20th century neighborhood club architecture."
Standing at the corner of Bushwick and Gates avenues, the freestanding brick building was designed by the firm Koch & Wagner, which had a 40-year span of work, mostly in Brooklyn and Queens. It follows the long tradition of Masonic lodges being constructed as monumental buildings in prominent places. The front façade is ornamental and impressive while the sides of the building are lacking in windows, as the Masons are notoriously private about their rituals.
"Significant features of the building include a rusticated stone base, terra-cotta details (including Masonic symbols), two-story arched bays containing a multi-pane sash, Ionic columns at the entry portico, a terra-cotta cornice decorated with an egg and dart molding and dentils, and a brick parapet with terra-cotta coping blocks," the LPC said in its official landmark-designation statement.
Masons met there into the 21st century until the lodge disbanded to join the Astoria Lodge in College Point, Queens. So it's is currently vacant.
This is the first landmark designation for recently instated LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, who called the building "important and significant." "The Ridgewood Masonic Temple maintains a commanding presence along Bushwick Avenue, and is representative of the many civic and institutional buildings that were constructed in Bushwick in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to serve its increasing population," she added. "The Commission is proud to recognize it as a New York City landmark and to grant it the protection a building of its notable history deserves." The designation had the support of both the local community board and City Councilman Antonio Reynoso.
Commissioner Margery Perlmutter also noted the Masons' place in both American history and, specifically, Brooklyn history. Turns out that while the former lodge is located is in what is now Bushwick, at the time of its construction, this address was in Ridgewood, which straddles the Brooklyn-Queens border. Ah-ha!
Commissioner Frederick Bland said he hopes the designation will lead to a rehabilitation and re-use. He probably doesn't mean more ragers... and now, any aspiring residential converter will have to keep the building intact and win LPC approval for such a project
—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· Building of the Day: 1054 Bushwick Avenue ['Stoner]
· All Ridgewood Masonic Temple coverage [Curbed]
· All Landmarks Preservation Commission coverage [Curbed]