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For over 100 years, the Historic Masonic Temple served as the home to the Joppa Lodge Masons, until 2005 when it was purchased by the Bay Arts Council. 


Today, the building is owned by the Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple who are dedicated to the mission of preserving and restoring the building while working to establish a community school for the arts within. 


We envision this space to serve as a multi-use venue for fostering the arts of all kinds! We strive for this space to be enjoyed for at least another 100 years!  

History of the Historic Masonic Temple of Bay City

Feb 1893

The Original Masonic Temple was dedicated.  The structure displayed a 114’ high octagonal minaret capped tower, one large Moorish dome and two smaller ones.  The Moorish elements throughout the building reflect the Free Mason influence of that era.


Bay City’s first ever motion picture exhibition was shown in the Blue Room.  The film was a black and white depiction of a battle scene during the Crimean War.

May 1903

The Masonic Temple was severely damaged by fire; lost were the tower and domes.  The copper from the domes was melted down and formed into coins as memorabilia for the masons.  You can see one of these coins on display at the temple.

Nov 1905

Dedication of the newly reconstructed building; the new construction was different from the original; integrating new technology such as fire resistant materials and steel roofing.


Over the next 100 years 95% of the activities held in the temple were of a Masonic nature.


The Bay Arts Council signed an agreement with the Joppa Lodge to purchase the historic building.  Once the purchase was made a visioning committee was formed to support the complete, original, restoration of the Masonic Temple.


The Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival is founded.  This local festival showcases independent movies and band over 4 days in Downtown Bay city.  The festival utilizes the Red room as a movie theatre and holds their primary concert in the Blue room of the temple.


The Haunted Masonic Temple began.  This theatrical haunted house, put on by area youth, was the largest fundraiser supporting the Masonic Temple for over 10 years.  The funds raised paid for yearly maintenance and the utilities. Today the Haunted Temple has been replaced by various events throughout the year.


The Society for the Preservation and Restoration of the Historical Masonic Temple of Bay City, a separate 501c3, is formed and charged with the mission of raising the money for the restoration of the temple as well as directing the plan for its future use.

The organization is also known as The Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple of Bay City.

May 2016

The Historic Masonic Temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places with State level significance.  This was an important step in efforts to preserve the building and secure funding sources for the its future renovations.

Dec 2016

The Bay Arts Council and the Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple separated, as was intended, and the Friends organization officially took ownership of the Historic Masonic Temple.  This date also marked the beginning of many new relationships that are helping to drive the efforts to create a community school for the arts.

Counter Culture, The Excellency Music Festival, Rotary Club of Bay City to name a few.

Jan 2017

The Vanishing Elephant Players are founded.


Board members and volunteers are actively raising money for the restoration and preservation of the temple.  Through fundraisers, grant writing, and generous donations from the public we will save this magnificent building and have it available for generations to come.

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