Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Clark and Kenitzer, Architects (firm); Reuben S. Clark (architect); Henry Kenitzer (architect)

Dates: constructed 1860-1861

Post Street and Montgomery Street
Financial District, San Francisco, CA 94104

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Mason Reuben S. Clark (d. 1866), of the firm Clark and Kenitzer, served as the lead designer for the Masonic Building #2 in San Francisco. They worked with the building contractors John E. Kincaid, its mason, and John B. Quinton, carpenter. The cornerstone was laid on 06/25/1860, on "...the day following the Anniversary of Saint John the Baptist," the patron of the Masonic order. (See Daily Alta California, "Grand Masonic Celebration," Volume 24, Number 3619, 11/03/1862, p. 5.) Clark would go on to design the California State Capitol Building #7, begun in late 1860.

Building History

In the early 1860s, a number of large-scale buildings were being erected or planned in the vicinity of Bush and Montgomery Streets, north of Market. These included the Masonic Building #2 and several large hotels, including the Lick House #1 and Russ House. A June 1. 1861, article in the Daily Alta Californianewspaper said of these big construction projects: “As was above remarked, the southern portion of Montgomery street is undergoing vast improvements. During the last six months, the corner of Market street has been adorned with a unique and substantial structure, and on the opposite side of the street the Masonic Temple is fast exhibiting its mammoth and graceful proportions.” (See “City Items: Montgomery Street Improvements,” Daily Alta California, vol. 13, no. 4214, 06/01/1861, p. 1.)

A week before the laying of the cornerstone, the newspaper, the California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, described the new main Masonic headquarters: "The first excavations, preparatory to laying the foundation, were made on the 24th of April, and it is anticipated that the temple...will be completed in one year from that date. The total cost of the edifice will be about $120,000, and of the lot $42,000, making the total cost to the Masonic Association, $162,000. The building will front on Montgomery street 75 feet, and on Post street 160 feet, covering the entire lot. This, says the Evening Gazette, will be the most substantial and beautiful structure yet erected in California. The stone of which the foundation and the basement walls are composed is from Angel Island. The architects are Messrs. Clark & Kenitzer, who will superintend the entire construction." It continued, "It will be of the Italian-Gothic order of architecture, three stories high, with basement, divided into six compartments, twelve feet high in the clear. The first story will be eighteen feet high, and stores fronting on each street. The grand entrance to the second and third floors will be from the centre of the building on Post street, twenty feet wide, by forty-on and a-half feet long. The walls in the second-story will be twenty-six feet in height, and in the third-story twenty-two feet. These will be so arranged as to accommodate all the Order in the city, being ten lodges, two chapters, one council, and one commandery, with over one thousand members. A tower will be erected on the building, the extreme hight [sic] of which will be 128 feet above the pavement of Montgomery street." (See "New Masonic Hall," California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, vol. 13, no. 18, 06/22/1860, p. 141.)

PCAD id: 20548