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At the Historic Masonic Temple, we are creating a Community Center for the Arts by providing an opportunity to anyone with a passion to create.  Whether you want to learn new skills, teach, perform, or develop as an artist, we are here to support you with space, tools, and opportunities to collaborate.  Everyone is welcome, from the beginner to the long experienced.  We invite YOU to come CREATE WITH US!


Constructed in 1892, the Historic Masonic Temple has stood as an architectural gem for more than 130 years.  In 1903 it was gutted by fire.  After reconstruction, the building was rededicated in November of 1905.  Since then the building has had very limited updates and stands much as it did 119 years ago.  Having served most of its existence as the home and meeting place of the Joppa Lodge Masons, the building is now transitioning into its second life.


Today the building is owned and operated by the Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple, a 501c3 charitable arts organization, that is dedicated to the mission of preserving and restoring the building.  Being a space of inspiration and artistic beauty, it lends itself naturally to the world of the ARTS.  Inside, artists find a space to create and share their passions with each other and our community.  New programming is constantly being developed and we invite anyone with an idea, creative passion, or artistic need to get involved with us.  Let's create something beautiful together!


We envision this space to serve as a multi-use venue for fostering and celebrating all kinds of art! With the support and involvement of our donors, community partners, and artists we know this space will be enjoyed for at least another 100 years!

A Focus on Restoration & Preservation

There are so many unique things about this building that deserve to be preserved, protected, and celebrated.  There is a lot of work ahead of us to not only restore and preserve this building, but to update it with amenities that modern society is accustomed to.  This work will take a number of years to complete and will require the support of our community.  If you would like to support the efforts of the Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple please consider making a charitable contribution today!

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 11 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.  

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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