Original Temple Building
2-6 E Main
Watertown Steam Laundry previously occupied 2 E Main
Masonic Temple was built on this site in 1906 [2-6 E Main]
Lodge rooms on the third floor, banquet rooms on second floor
First floor of this location later became the site of Fischer’s
LOCATION OF ARTESIAN WELL
Watertown became known for her artesian wells early in the ‘50s. The first one was drilled where the Masonic Temple now stands. Jefferson County Wisconsin and its People.
01 21 DEATH OF THOMAS SMITH / Masonic Funeral
The remains of the late Thomas W. Smith are expected to reach this city on Thursday, the 28th. On their arrival they will be placed in the Lodge Room of Watertown Lodge No. 49, of which the deceased was a member, there to remain until Saturday, when the funeral will take place, under the direction of the Lodge. Mr. Smith was about 32 years of age. Orphaned in infancy by the death of his parents, he was adopted by Mr. Van Alstine of this city and by him brought up.
04 17 CARD PARTY FOR MEN
Last Thursday evening the Masons gave another of their pleasant card parties for gentlemen at the Masonic temple, there being fifty-two players engaged in a cinch. J. W. Kintzinger secured the first prize and Wm. Buthorn the "booby" prize. An excellent luncheon was provided for the guests. WR
05 15 PUMPING HAND-CAR
A contingent of local Masonic enthusiasts "pumped" their way to Jefferson on a hand-car last Thursday evening to participate in some exercises with their brethren in that city. They had a very hot time of it, but are positive that they enjoyed the trip nevertheless. WR
W. J. Lee conducted a barber shop and bath rooms on the site of the Masonic Temple.
02 27 MASONIC HOME PROPOSED FOR WATERTOWN
It is reported to be among the possibilities that Watertown may be selected as the place for the location of the new Wisconsin Masonic home, steps for the institution of which have already been taken. The matter has been placed in the hands of the Order of Eastern Star and it is expected that the proposed home will be either purchased of built the coming season. The Eastern Star has selected a committee to look up the suitable location, the chairman being Mrs. Towner, of Viroqua. In a few weeks, as soon as the weather becomes milder, this committee will go on a tour of investigation and it is announced that Watertown is to be one of the places visited. In fact it is given out that this city is being very favorably considered, as its natural advantages, excellent railway accommodations, material improvements and other qualifications are such as to highly commend it. We understand that Watertown’s chief rival in the matter is Racine, but our superior location alone should be sufficient to grant us the decision of the committee.
12 24 The Mrs. M. E. Parker building on the east end of Main Street bridge [north side] was sold last Saturday under foreclosure sale to Robert E. Dent for $1100, who bid it in for the Masonic Lodge of this city. Previous to this the Masonic Lodge purchased the Chappie property, consisting of two stores just east of the Parker place [6 E Main?], the consideration being $2800. A frontage of 60 feet has been secured. It is the intention of the Masons to build a fine three story block on the site with a frontage of 70 feet, the building to extend 10 feet further into the river than the Parker building.
Plans will be prepared during the winter months, and work will begin on the building early in the spring. The third story of the building will be used for the Masonic Hall, the second floor for offices and the first floor for stores. All modern improvements will be put in, and nothing will be spared to make it one of the finest business blocks in the state.
POURING THE FOUNDATION
08 11 LAYING OF CORNER STONE
Tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, at 2 o’clock the impressive and imposing ceremonies of laying the corner-stone of the new Masonic Temple will occur and will be a marked event in experience of the Masonic body in the city. The stone will be of red Wisconsin granite, highly polished, upon one face of which will be a sunk panel in which will be engraved the letters and figures A. L. 5905. Within the stone will be a recess, in which will be placed a copper box containing a copy of the charter of the city, copies of the charters of the several Masonic organizations in the city, a roster of the members of such societies, the names of the directors and building committee and a late copy of the newspapers published in Watertown and other data which will be interesting a hundred or so years hence, should the box be opened.
08 15 CORNERSTONE LAID
Thursday afternoon the cornerstone of the new Masonic Temple was laid with imposing and impressive ceremonies as is usual on such occasions. Soon after 2 o’clock, a procession was formed on Second Street right, resting on Main Street in the following order:
Grand Lodge officers
It was estimated that there were at least 300 in line and marched on Main Street to Sixth and counter-marched to Washington Street and then returned to the Masonic building now in course of erection where preparations had been made for the ceremonies, everything being in readiness. The speakers and members of the Grand Lodge were provided with seats upon a raised platform, a large flag as a canopy, about the platform being grouped on two sides the Knights Templars and Master Masons, A. F. Solliday acting as grand marshal.
08 23 BUILDING BEING ERECTED FOR A. E. MEACHAM
Work on the Masonic Temple, the apartment building being erected on First street by the Merchants Bank and the business building being erected for [by?] A. E. Meacham on Main Street is being pushed by the contractors with all possible dispatch. It is expected that the buildings will be ready for occupation early in December. WR
-- -- GIRDERS IN PLACE
11 04 The Masonic Temple is now enclosed and the work of finishing the inside will be pushed vigorously by the contractor and it is expected that it will be ready for occupancy early in the new year.
A flag pole is to be placed upon the Masonic Temple. It will be of iron, 27 feet above the battlement and carry a sixteen foot “Old Glory.” Frank Eaton happened to think of it in time and his patriotic impulses made it possible.
1906 MASONIC TEMPLE DEDICATED 06 01 1906 [fire in 1916]
06 01 Appropriate and Interesting Ceremonies
Grand Master Bradley of Milwaukee, Officiating
A notable occasion and one long to be remembered was the dedication of the new Masonic Temple and the banquet which followed. All of our citizens have watched with interest the erection of the Temple and feel, now that it is completed, that it is an ornament to our city; there is not attempt at architectural display, but there is an air of quiet elegance and simplicity about the building that at once impresses you.
The hour appointed for the dedication services was 3:30 p.m., but it was nearly 4 o’clock when Worshipful Master Arthur Mulburger announced that the hall was ready for dedication and the members of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin took charge of the exercises, and according to their ritual, dedicated the Temple to Masonic uses.
Grand Master Jesse C. Bradley of Milwaukee spoke with much feeling of the beauties of the order, how it cemented friendship and brotherly love, and made truer men of its members. The principal address was delivered by Senator C. Rogers of Milwaukee, past grand master. During the services a quartette composed by Messrs. Edward L. Schempf, William Sproesser, O. E. Meyer and Max Rohr rendered several musical selections in their usual pleasing and artistic manner.
The members of the Grand Lodge in attendance and who conducted the dedicatory services were: Jesse C. Bradley, Grand Master; C. H. Moore, Deputy Grand Master; N. C. Giffin, Senior Grand Warden; W. J. Cochrane, Junior Grand Warden; James M. Pereles, Grand Treasurer; George Burroughs, Grand Secretary; C. W. Perry, Grand Chaplain; G. B. Sweet, Grand Marshal, S. E. Tate, Grand Lecturer; John Corseot, Senior Grand Deacon; James E. Durgin, Junior Grand Deacon, N. C. Daniels, Purserivant; W. S. Dibble, Sword Bearer, John Foley, Senior Steward; Dudley F. Fitzgerald, Junior Steward; John B. Cromwell, Grand Tyler; C. C. Rogers, Orator; Robert Dent, Architect.
At the close of Mr. Rogers’ address, W. W. Perry, in behalf of A. Herro of Oconomowoc, presented to the lodge two beautiful gavels made from the wood of the famous Cedar of Lebanon. Arthur Mulberger, master of the local blue lodge, made a neat little speech of acceptance. Mr. Herro has made similar gifts to the lodges in Oconomowoc and Milwaukee. Short informal talks were given by John Corscot, Madison, Judge Giffin, Fond du Lac; Judge Pereles, Milwaukee; William Porter, Jefferson; William Jones and Fred Brown, Oconomowoc, and N. C. Daniels of Milwaukee, formerly of Watertown, always an enthusiastic worker in Masonic circles and several times Master of Lodge No. 49 F.&A.M.
The dedication services ended, a time was devoted to social converse, the renewal of old time friendships and the formation of new ones. Rev. T. C. Eglin of Momence, Ills., former rector of St. Paul’s Church, was present and received a most cordial greeting. Cyrus Washburn, of Portage, for fifty two years an engineer on the C.M.&St.P. Ry., was also present and found a few old-time brother Masons who were here when he was a resident of Watertown.
However much we enjoy the literary and social part of an entertainment we are usually ready to respond to the call to supper and this was not exception to the rule. Shortly after six o’clock the doors leading to the banquet hall on the second floor were thrown open and the feast of good things was served. The grand officers, the past officers, and the officers of the local lodge, and several guests were seated first, and then the guests filed in until all the tables were filled. To Mr. James Fleming, of the Junction House, had been given the preparation of the banquet and he fully demonstrated that the trust had not been misplaced. Eight tables, each capable of seating sixteen people, were disposed about the hall. Ferns and pink roses were scattered about the tables, mingling artistically with the most substantial viands, while great branches of the same sweet blossoms nodded gracefully from tall vases in the center of each table.
Following is the menu served and everything was of the best; certainly if we can be served like this we have no need to send out of town for caterers . . . .
Adjourning to the lodge room, a short program was given with Senator C. C. Rogers presiding; C. H. Moore of Oakland read a very interesting paper on “The Dedication;” the quartette followed with a musical selection and the Rev. T. B. Thompson, pastor of the Congregational Church, made a few appropriate remarks. It was ten o’clock before the last guests were served and immediately afterward the tables were removed from the banquet hall and the room was made ready for dancing. Music was furnished by Gerber’s Orchestra, of Milwaukee, and was so inspiring that the dancing was kept up until the “wee’smal’ hours.”
Too much credit cannot be given to the members of the committee on arrangements for the able manner in which everything was conducted. The committee consisted of Hon. W. F. Voss, W. H. Woodard, W. C. Stone, W. H. Beurhaus, Max Rohr, Emil Creuz and F. M. Eaton.
The Watertown Masonic home has been completed at a cost of $40,000. Work was begun May 1, 1905, and the corner stone was laid by the grand lodge on August 10, 1905. The building is of brick, three stories high, with basement. La Salla pressed brick and Bedford stone were used. The foundations are of concrete. The dimensions are 84 by 70 feet, the building fronting on Main Street. The first floor is leased to business firms and for post office purposes and the office of The Watertown Daily Times is in the basement. The second floor is finished for offices and there are already nearly all taken. Dr. W. E. Lyons, Kading & Kading and Mrs. H. Kuehn being already located there.
Modern and complete lodge quarters are on the third floor, where Watertown Lodge No. 49, Watertown Chapter No. 11, R.A.M., Olivet Commandery No. 18, Knights Templer and Watertown Chapter No. 44, have elaborate and handsome quarters. The Benevolent Protective Order of Elks also occupy lodge quarters here. The dimensions of the lodge room are 35 by 46 feet, with anterooms, property rooms, etc.
The building is equipped with a steam heating plant and both electric light and gas are used. The building was erected by Watertown Lodge No. 49, upon plans made by Architect H. C. Kock & Son, Milwaukee. It is said to be one of the handsomest and most conveniently arranged Masonic temples in the state.
The trustees of the lodge which built it are Robert Dent, F. M. Eaton and A. Solliday, and John Schatz, contractor. WGazzette, 06 06 1906
Watertown Daily Times, 06 23 1906
It was the work of an imaginative mind and the prank of a practical joker that the rumor soon spread through the city yesterday morning that the Masonic Temple had been sold by a smooth fakir to a couple of farmers residing near the city.
The rumors started when a couple of tillers of the soil were sitting in a dilapidated carriage in front of the new “Pride of Watertown.” The general appearance of the farmers would lead one to believe that such a story, which was in the effect that they were visited Sunday by the smooth individual who made them easy victims and sold (?) the temple getting $100 down as an evidence of good faith, with the understanding that they were to come to the city yesterday morning and make a payment of $400, which would close the deal and transfer the property.
The facts were that the two farmers came to the city and remained in front of the Masonic Temple for about an hour. They were waiting for the appearance of Attorney Kading on other matters of business, however, and were not waiting to free themselves of their hard earned cash and sitting admiring the new prize as the story ran.
The unsuspecting gentlemen from the rural district must have felt somewhat curious as they sat in their rig the object of curious eyes as they stopped and glanced at the claimed victims who had been victimized into buying a $50,000 building for the trifling sum above mentioned.
It was a story easily believed, essentially in view of the fact that it was not long ago that the Chicago Masonic Temple was sold by a fakir to a couple of unsuspecting farmers for the paltry sum of $2,000, the fakirs securing a snug little sum down.
While the Leader enjoys a good piece of news next to a square meal, it is nevertheless glad that the thing is a fabrication of an imaginative mind and that the $500 of the alleged victims still remains intact.
09 08 POST OFFICE LOCATION, Cross Reference
A statement issued today [Sept. 8, 1964] on behalf of the Watertown Masonic fraternity, in connection with the Masonic Temple and the rights involved in the alley that runs west from North First Street to Rock River, between the Bank of Watertown and the old city hall the Masons said they wanted to make it clear that they are only interested in preserving this rear access to the Masonic Temple building. Back in 1906, the Masonic Lodge, by its trustees, the late S. M. Eaton, William H. Woodard and Robert Dent, leased a part of the temple building, including the use of the alley, to the federal government for post office use. The post office then was located in the Masonic Temple. The lease was renewed in 1911. No dispute or question as to it being a public alley or right of way arose, the statement points out.
02 22 In 1902 the local Elks Lodge occupied quarters on the third floor of the Daub Building, 10 E. Main St., and moved in 1907 to the third floor of the Masonic Temple, which was inhabited by the Fischer's Department Store for many decades. WDT
09 10 The Knights of King Arthur have given up their room in the Masonic Temple used as a gymnasium and returned to their rooms in the annex to the Congregational Church and will be under the supervision and instruction of Rev. H. C. Rehm, who will continue the work inaugurated by the Rev. T. B. Thompson, his predecessor as pastor of the church. The room in the Temple will be occupied by Dr. H. V. Pitschmann, who will fit it up for a gymnasium with all of the latest apparatus and appliances usually found in those in the large cities and make it an ideal place for the young men of our city, who can go there for recreation and exercise that which will be helpful and healthful. WDT
12 27 Liederkranz Society, dancing party given by WD
12 10 Masonic Temple steam also heats area buildings
Peoples' Cash Meat Market located within, 1909
01 08 New Year ball at Masonic Temple hall, given by the Elks WG
03 19 Masonic Hall enlarged by adding a kitchen. WG
During the time that Emil Doerr was with the paper [Daily Times] it occupied various locations. It was first located where the Mullen Dairy is now operated. From there the paper moved to the basement quarters in the Masonic Temple, up to time of 1916 temple fire.
Paul Thom's dancing academy located in Masonic Temple, 6 E Main, 1913-14 Watertown City Directory
01 22 TWO ORCHESTRAS HIRED
New Dances in One Hall and Old Style in Another [held at Masonic Temple]. The Knights Templar ball takes place next Monday. This will be the third annual event of this kind and everything points to a very successful affair. Arrangements have been made for dancing and two orchestras have been engaged for the evening. Bach’s will furnish the inspiration on the second floor for the new dances and Wheeler’s will perform like service in the [other] lodge room for devotees of the waltz, two step and quadrille. WG
1916 / FIRE OF 02 18 1916
Click to enlarge
“This is the way the Masonic Temple looks now, since the fire from Friday night. The 3rd floor is in ruins and so is Ryans, Kadings and the Elks rooms; also the hair dressing rooms (1). The candy shop and dance hall (2) seem to be all right; most of the fire was in the northeast corner to all of the 3rd floor. It began in the basement near Ryans place. Sure was some fire. Did not know there was a fire until Sat. Elsa”
Postcard in the archives of St. Paul’s Church, postmarked 02 21 1916, two days after the inferno
1917 REBUILDING AFTER THE FIRE
Masonic Temple & Store Bldg. rebldg:
$30,000. 3 sty. & bas., 60x84
Main St. near 1st St., Watertown Wis.
Architect A. C. Clas Colby, Abbott bldg, Milwaukee
Owner Watertown Lodge 49 F.& A.M., Wm. W. Beurhaus Watertown.
Bids by archt. on sep. contrs. The American Contractor, 1917.
FISCHERS COMPLETE REMODELING PROGRAM
Store Presents New Appearance On First Floor
Chas. Fischer and Sons Co. yesterday completed work on a vast remodeling program at its Main Street store which has become the “At the Bridge” landmark in Watertown.
The store is observing its 57th anniversary this month and the work of remodeling the entire main floor has been underway since Jan. 7. The Jaeger Manufacturing Co. of this city had the general contract for the work.
The entire main floor has been, rearranged, complete new fixtures and display cases have been built and installed, all according to individual specifications and the result is a store that offers the latest in merchandising displays, with wide aisles and so attractively and suitably arranged that it gives the store a completely new look.
New indirect lighting has also been provided and the store has been newly redecorated, all of this adding to its new beauty. There is an inviting air about the remodeled store and shoppers will find it arranged for greater convenience and comfort.
A new separate men’s department has been installed on the main floor and the infants’ wear department has been moved from the second floor to the main floor. The piece goods department has been greatly expanded and provided with a new full view display system. A new linen department is another feature and the 1adies accessories department has been greatly enlarged.
The radio and television department has also been given new quarters on the main floor.
In addition to the new display cases, there are various wall display areas which lend distinction to articles exhibited. Goods is now in full view of shoppers.
The new fixtures and other wood parts are made of limed oak, with a medium blond shade. It makes a most attractive setting.
A new overhead wire cash system has been installed and will eventually be changed to a pneumatic tube system for greater speed and convenience.
BEGAN IN 1895
The Fischer store, which is headed by Eli E. Fischer, for many years its president, takes pride in this latest step forward in its 57 year history as a shopping center in Watertown.
The store, which is home owned, home managed and home staffed, has, in its more than half century of service to the community, become a shopping center of people from far and near.
The original store was opened in March of 1895 and was located in West Main Street, in the building which, is now the Savoy theatre.
The present store, which is located in the Masonic Temple building, occupies three floors and has 17,250 square feet of floor space.
ENJOYED STEADY GROWTH
Eli E. Fischer
Under the leadership of its president, Eli E. Fischer, it has grown steadily and has been a vigorous factor in the progress of this community. Over the years it has kept pace with progress and has undergone many changes and improvements. Under Mr. Fischer’s leadership it has never been content to stand still, but has introduced many innovations and has undergone numerous alterations and remodelings and has expanded on various occasions. The latest change is one of the most complete and most unique in its long history, another step forward in the field of merchandising.
Not many business places which were in operation in Watertown before the turn of this century are still in the hands of the same family and people, but the Chas. Fischer and Sons Co. is one of these exceptions. In many instances it has enjoyed the loyal patronage of three and four generations of Watertown families and families outside the city.
Eli E. Fischer is still active in the business and is at the store daily, greeting customers and waiting on the public.
INCORPORATED IN 1902
The business was incorporated on Jan. 3. 1902 with the late Charles Fischer as its president, Julius Fischer as vice president, Eli E. Fischer as secretary and Otto Fischer as the other incorporator.
In 1902 a branch of the store was opened in Lake Mills and this is still in operation under the direction of Otto Fischer.
Eli E. Fischer, one of the original officers, has been president for many years. His brother, George M. Fischer, is secretary; Otto Fischer, Lake Mills, is vice' president; and Karl Fischer is treasurer. Joseph Donahue, for many years a member of the store staff, is director.
The management invites the public to drop in at the store during tomorrow and Saturday and see the changes that have been carried out during the past two months.
09 02 Now that city offices and departments have moved into the new Watertown Municipal Building in Memorial Park, the future use of the old city hall remains to be resolved, Mayor Robert P. White has informed members of the common council. The mayor has announced to them that at the present time a stalemate exists on the previously announced plans by the Bank of Watertown to acquire the building for its long contemplated expansion plans, chiefly of the Masonic fraternity, owners of the Masonic Temple, which houses, in addition to numerous offices, the department store of the Charles Fischer and Sons Co., have been unable to reach a definite agreement. WDT
01 06 The announcement in the Daily Times on Dec. 9 that the Fischer and Sons Co. department store was purchasing the Masonic Temple has now been confirmed and the deal has been finalized. The Masonic Temple was sold by the trustees of the Masonic Lodge in Watertown and the awaited confirmation and approval by the Grand Lodge has been obtained. Under terms of the sale the Masons will have the privilege to continue occupying their quarters on the third floor of the building for two years. Meanwhile, the Masons are due to name a special committee empowered to seek or locate a new Masonic headquarters in the city. WDT
09 26 Construction of a new Masonic Temple, plans for which were announced months ago, is due to get underway shortly. It will be constructed on a site in Madison Street, just east of Otto’s Inn. The Masons purchased the site at the time the Daily Times announced the plans for the new building. It was disclosed today that a building permit has been issued for the new temple. The estimated cost of construction, as listed in the permit, is $77,790. Furnishings and equipment will be extra. Sale of the present Masonic Temple to the Chas. Fischer and Sons Co. department store, which has for many years occupied the major portion of the building, was announced earlier.
01 21 Officers of Watertown Chapter No. 44, Order of Eastern Star, were installed at an impressive open ceremony held recently at the Masonic Temple. The ceremony opened with the presentation of the Bible by Steven Baldwin, son of the new worthy matron, Mrs. Roberta Baldwin. Serving as installing officers were: Marion Krempian, worthy matron; A. J. Reiss, worthy patron; Marion Carlson, marshal; Irene Kopitzkee, chaplain; Irene Splinter, organist; Ada Ulsberger, acting conductress; Darleen Toman, soloist. Roberta Baldwin is the new worthy matron for the ensuing year while other officers installed were Frank Johnston, worthy patron; Donna Schmutzler, associate matron; Robert Schmutzler, associate patron; Ethel Mallach, secretary; Loda Carlson, treasurer; Ethel Z. Marquardt, conductress; Darleen Toman, associate conductress; Erma Reiss, chaplain; Irene Kopitzkee, marshal; Irene Splinter, organist. WDT
08 17 The new Masonic Temple located on Madison Street will be dedicated on Nov. 11, according to present plans which were announced today. Work on the new building is nearing completion, with some interior work, including painting and decorating, still to be finished. The new structure replaces the old Masonic Temple in Main Street which Watertown Lodge 49, A.&F.M. and other Masonic groups have occupied for many years. The old building has been sold to the Chas. Fischer & Son Co. department store which has occupied the major portion of the building “at the bridge” for a great many years.
(1) Might be the Masonic Temple Hair Dressing Parlors, Masonic Temple, as noted in 1913-14 Watertown City Directory
(2) Most likely the Paul Thom Dancing Academy, Masonic Temple, as noted in 1913-14 Watertown City Directory
Today’s Masonic Temple, different building.
In 1876 the first telephone in service in Watertown was installed at the Globe Milling Co. by the late John B. May, prominent photographer of Watertown, who conducted his business on the site of the present Masonic temple. WG, 12 29 1932
History of Watertown, Wisconsin