A Building of Heritage Significance
Welcome to the site of the Dandenong Masonic Temple – a building of architectural importance. Like most Masonic buildings, the architecture of this Temple refers to the traditions and rituals of the Freemasons. Masonry as a craft was linked with geometry, measurement and with building in stone. The classical temple form is considered to be symbolic of the ideals of freemasonry. Masonic interest in antiquity and craft links with Neoclassical architecture, referencing the universal principles of “strength, wisdom and beauty.” Typical of most Masonic temples, this temple is of distinguishing architectural character. The building shows aspects of Neoclassical architecture including the symmetrical front, raised central main entrance, vertical division of the façade, prominent parapet and pediment, and the stylised Doric columns. These details are focused in the main facade, with the major body of the building to the rear being a more practical structure.
This two-storey rendered building has a hipped corrugated iron roof hidden behind, with double-hung windows at ground level and highlight windows serving the upper level hall. The sides of the building are visible and buttressed. Three steps lead into an entry foyer and beyond was a supper room and kitchen on the lower floor with the Lodge meeting room on the upper floor. Pressed cement lettering which read ‘Masonic Temple’ featured above the first floor windows and are evident in early photos, prior to the Freemasons discontinuing their use of the building. The Dandenong Masonic Temple – used by the Freemasons until its closure in 1991 – has stood witness to a period of time during which Dandenong evolved from a rural market township to a modern regional city. It is one of Dandenong’s significant heritage buildings and stands in stark contrast to the surrounding contemporary architecture and urban landscape.
Freemasonry in Dandenong
Welcome to the site of the Dandenong Masonic Temple – a building of historic and cultural importance. Masonic temples were built and used by members of a Lodge (chapter) of Free and Accepted Masons – more commonly known as the ‘Freemasons’. The Freemasonry movement was started by masons (people who build with stone) of Medieval England, who formed self-governing associations known as ‘guilds’. By the 1600s, guilds began accepting members who did not work as masons and these were called ‘free-masons’. By the mid 1800’s Freemasonry was flourishing throughout Britain, Europe and Australia. A Masonic Lodge was first established in Dandenong in 1876 and was called the Lodge of Sincerity. The Lodge was closed in 1881, then re-established in 1896 (No.179 under the United Grand Lodge of Victoria). Its monthly meetings were held in the Lodge Room of the Mechanics Institute associated with the Shire Offices. This temple was the first purpose built meeting place of the Freemasons in Dandenong and the front section (east bay and principal façade) may have been built around 1907.
By the 1920s, the Lodge was struggling for space and in 1922 the decision was made to extend the Temple. A contract was awarded to Bro. G. Snell to design the extension for a fee of £2,800. A building contract was then “signed with Bro. N. A. Taylor for the total sum of £2,530”. The building works were completed in late 1923 and the first meeting was held on 22 December 1923. A ceremony of dedication and the unveiling of the foundation stone was held on 16 August 1924. The Dandenong Masonic Temple was closed in 1991 with the Dandenong Lodge joining lodges from Springvale, Mordialloc and Chelsea at a new building in Keysborough. The building was then used as a recycling workshop and a Spanish church before remaining unoccupied for a number of years. In 2007-2008 it was acquired by the Victorian Government as part of the Revitalising Central Dandenong initiative. In 2016 ownership of the building was transferred to the City of Greater Dandenong and a feasibility study was undertaken to identify the site’s suitability for adaptive re-use. Freemasons Lane was named in 2017 in recognition of the enduring historic value of the Dandenong Masonic Temple and Freemasonry in Dandenong.