Calais Masonic Hall Holds Open House

By Lura Jackson

The massive ceremonial room of the Calais Masonic Hall appears nearly identical to its original 1918 incarnation. The hall is utilized by six different orders of the St. Croix Masonic Association. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

On Saturday, October 18th, the Calais Masonic Hall on Calais Avenue held an open house to give the public an opportunity to get a firsthand look at the historic building and to inquire of the several Masonic organizations that now utilize the hall. 

Constructed in 1835 as the Temperance House, the building was the first brick hotel east of Bangor, with seventy rooms and a stable large enough to accommodate sixty horses. Rising three stories with a classic Greek Revival style, the exterior of the building remains mostly unchanged from its original inception. As the Temperance House, it served as a place where men could relax and associate with one another without imbibing alcohol. In the 1840s the hotel was renamed to the Calais House, though new management in 1876 would change the name again to the American House. The hotel closed in 1910 and remained vacant until being purchased in 1918 by the St. Croix Masonic Association, which continues to use it today.

The interior of the building was altered somewhat to make it suitable for its purpose as a Masonic Hall, with a large part of the third floor removed completely to create a massive empty space on the second story. The space (which member Larry Clark estimates could hold his 24' by 54' house) now serves as a ceremonial hall that looks nearly identical to how it first appeared in 1918. A notable exception, however, is the absence of the constellations in the ceiling, which cast a celestial illumination over the hall until a fire in 2005 necessitated their removal. 

The Masonic Hall is now used by six different orders of the St. Croix Masonic Association, including the Blue Lodge (considered the main lodge), the Chapter and Council branches, the Christian Masonic wing (which traces its origins to the Knights Templar), the Order of the Eastern Star (which accepts both women and men), and the Order of the Rainbow (a youth organization). The Lodge has about 100 active members, 15 of which have been members for more than 50 years. Freemasonry is recognized as the world’s largest and oldest fraternal organization, with members dedicated to the betterment of their respective communities. 

To find out more about the Freemasons in Maine, visit www.mainemason.org.