Brisbane’s Most Secretive Building Gets Refurbishment

Artist's impression of Masonic Centre

A development application has been submitted by The Charity of Freemasons Queensland for the adaptive reuse of the 1930’s built Brisbane Masonic Centre.

According to the DA, the partial adaptive reuse of the building will enable the sustainable upkeep of the building as well as a continued presence of the Masonic Centre functions after a falling membership has left the centre with a significant excess of unused space.

Artist’s impression of new side entry to the building from Hutton Lane
Artist’s impression of new side entry to the building from Hutton Lane

The refurbishment would also serve to address current health and safety short comings of the centre and position the building for a sustainable future.

Development Rundown:

  • A new 700sqm restaurant and cafe tenancy with new side entrance opening onto Hutton Lane
  • Alterations on the ground level to facilitate the continuation of Freemason activities within the building which includes the creation of new lodge rooms, changed configuration of Grand Hall and creation of storage space
  • Levels 1 & 2 will be converted into approximately 600sqm of boutique office space
  • The third floor (Grand Hall) will be converted into function/event space and available to be hired out for use as a private venue.
  • Income that is generated from the adaptive reuse will sustain Freemasons Queensland’s annual maintenance budget at its current level and effectively preserve the building.

Architect Conrad Gargett has developed an overarching masterplan for the historic building which will be open to the public for the first time.

Artist’s impression of proposed members lounge
Artist’s impression of proposed office use

History

The Masonic Temple was built between 1928 and 1930 by the United Grand Lodge of Queensland which was a union of all 281 Freemasons’ lodges in Queensland. The land was originally purchased for in 1922 for £6,874.

In June 1923 a competition was held to produce a design for the temple. On 8 December 1924 the plans of Lange Powell (Freemason) of Atkinson, Powell and Conrad, were chosen from the 16 entries submitted. The chosen design was for a Classical Revival architectural style building.

Artist’s impression of ‘Masonic layout’ mode of the Grand Hall

The design provided a four storey building, with a basement for the caretaker and storerooms. The ground floor held the executive offices of the Grand Lodges of Queensland, a library and a museum.

Proposed Grand Hall Modes

In the centre of the large circular hall was the ‘Urn of Remembrance’ to Brethren who died in First World War. The first floor comprised supper rooms and the second held the lodge rooms.

The Grand Lodge room on the top floor seated around 1,100 people, and was described in the Architecture and Building Journal in February 1928 as the “largest and finest of its kind in Australia”.

On 25 April 1928 Most Worshipful Brother Justice Charles Stumm laid the foundation stone. A capsule was placed beneath the stone which contained copies of the 4 Metropolitan newspapers of 24 April 1928, duplicate cheques contributed by Lodges and Brethren, a copy of the Grand Master’s speech and coins.

Building commenced in May 1928. The temple was completed in 1930 at a cost of £103,000, plus £10 000 for furniture. Freemasons throughout Queensland contributed towards the expense.

On 9 December 1930 Sir John Goodwin, Governor of Queensland, unveiled and dedicated the memorial urn and the following day the Temple was opened and dedicated as a memorial to fallen Brethren, a symbol of Masonic unity in Queensland and as a monument to Freemasonry in Queensland. Since 1930 the hall has been the centre of Masonic activity in Queensland.

The DA number for this development is A004598803.

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