The Original Mansion
Our elegant Italianate Mansion was built in 1856 for local industrialist Henry S. Durand. The building is an excellent example of the Italianate design which was a style that was popular during the mid to latter part of the 19th century. It features a low pitched roof with wide eaves, and brackets, tall windows, and a cupola or belvedere. The east porch and bay windows are typical of this type of architecture. The Mansion was built for Mr. Durand who was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. As a young man he moved to Cleveland, then part of the Western Reserve, now Ohio. He learned the mercantile business, acquired lake vessels, and moved to Racine in 1843. In Racine he extended his business in coal and lumber.
In 1844 Mr. Durand opened an insurance company where he wrote the first insurance policy to be issued in Wisconsin. Mr. Durand was believed to have had one of the most extensive libraries in the world on insurance law. He was involved in real estate and promoted the building of the first railroad out of Racine. The railroad was chartered in 1852 under the name of “Racine, Janesville, and Mississippi Railroad”. It was completed to Burlington, Wisconsin in 1855. The railroad was finished at Savanna, Illinois in 1857. Unfortunately the railroad was not successful, and Mr. Durand moved to Chicago a few years later. Mr. Durand passed away in California in 1899.
In 1899 the Racine City Directory shows the Mansion was occupied by the Otis Johnson Family. In 1906 Mr. Frederick Robinson, President of the JI Case Company, purchased the Mansion from the Otis Johnson Family. Mr. Robinson rejuvenated the Mansion in 1906 adding electric lights, gas, steam heat, stained glass doors, and windows. The floor plan remains exactly as originally built which keeps the original charm of years gone by.
The Masonic Organizations
In 1902 Racine Lodge No. 18 F&AM, Belle City Lodge No. 92 F&AM, Orient Chapter No. 12 RAM, and Racine Council No. 5 R&SM met together in a joint meeting to take action for acquiring property in which to carry on their work. These bodies had been renting quarters up to this time and had aspired to the desire of owning their own property. With the $5,000 which the bodies had and in the face of some opposition, the building which was then known as the Lathrop Building in downtown Racine was purchased for $25,000. To provide additional funding $23,000 worth of bonds were issued and the four bodies agreeing to purchase $1000 in stock each year to retire the bonds.
As time passed the quarters were improved and additional property was purchased to provide for the growth of the Masonic Bodies. It soon became evident that the quarters were inadequate and it was necessary to provide for a larger facility. In 1920 the Masonic Organizations met in a joint session to take up this matter and at that time authorized the Temple Board to acquire or build a new Temple. It then evolved upon the Temple Board as to how this might best be accomplished. This Body then took the matter under consideration and obtained the Robinson Estate at 1012 Main Street on which to construct the new Masonic Temple in Racine.
A long term lease was enacted on the Monument Square property and a drive for funds started within the members of the Masonic Organizations to raise the funds necessary for the new building. Three fundraising drives netted approximately $150,000. To make up the funds necessary to complete the financing of the building a 25 year bond issue was floated and the income from the rental of the Monument Square Property being pledged to meet the loan.
Plans of the new facility were accepted by the Temple Board. These plans were designed by Brother E.B. Funston, a member of Racine Lodge No. 18. The work was carried on as quickly as possible and the first official action was the laying of the cornerstone which took place on Saturday afternoon, May 27, 1922. Work on the building continued to the progress very rapidly and the final dedication of the New Masonic Temple took place on Saturday afternoon, June 30, 1923. A monster parade composed of the members of the Racine Masonic Organizations, and visiting Brothers from neighboring cities was formed and marched from the old Temple to the New Quarters where the ritualistic ceremony of dedication was given in full form. Grand Master Charles F. Lamb of the Grand Lodge of the State of Wisconsin conducted the ceremony.
Meeting and Dining Space
Our elegant Italianate Club Room Mansion contains a number of meeting and dining spaces within the complex. The Masonic facilities on the Wisconsin Avenue side of the complex was added in 1922 . The addition to the mansion contains two beautifully decorated theater style lodge rooms on the second floor, a grand ballroom, a large dining hall, and beautifully appointed rooms within the Mansion for a relaxed intimate smaller meetings.
Doric Lodge room has seating for 300 guests and includes a carpeted floor area, theater style seating along the sides, a PA system, and a grand piano along with a grand organ. The balcony can accommodate another 45 guests.
Egyptian Lodge room has seating for 175 guests and also includes a carpeted floor area, theater style seating along the sides, a PA system, and a smaller a grand organ. The balcony can accommodate another 30 guests.
The Grand Ballroom has table seating capacity of 200 and the smaller dining room has the capacity of an additional 100 guests. The Masonic Center has a full service kitchen center including a commercial stove with two separate heating ovens, a convection oven, stainless steel counters, two commercial refrigerators, full coffee and hot water service, and a commercial dish washing center. While no food preparation services are provided by the Masonic Center we are happy to work with your caterer to insure you have an exceptional dining experience.