It Caught My Eye: Heaven On The Seventh Floor

Glendale’s A Noise Within (ANW) has been the region’s premiere classical repertory theater company for a long time now.  Other than about a year at the end of last century spent at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal Sate Los Angeles, the company’s home has been the landmark Masonic Temple building at 234 S. Brand Boulevard.

But the company is Glendale’s no longer. It’s leaving its home and heading to its own dedicated space in Pasadena, a move that’s been more than five years in the making. And today as one of its final acts in the Jewel City before beginning its life in the Crown city, the company held a rummage sale to clear out its inventory. Everything from lighting equipment and furniture to props to costumes was priced to move.

But instead of looking for bargains, I took the opportunity to go looking around, sneaking backstage and up the stairs to explorie the 1928 building’s upper levels where I found this jaw-droppingly amazing top-floor space in mid-demolition/arrested decay (click to panoramally enlargify and/or check out this rotate-ready version of the image):

UPDATE (8.26): Where’d the picture go? Short-ish story is that a representative of the building’s owners, Frank DiPietro and Sons, contacted me the day after this post went live wanting to discuss the photograph’s publication. After some further consideration, it was politely requested of me today to remove the above image,  for several reasons. First, it was taken and published without their permission. Second, the picture shows the hall in a condition that doesn’t showcase it in the best light. Third, the company is in the midst of submitting plans and obtaining permits for a renovation/remodel of the space and the company is sensitive about photographs and information about the
building being released as that process progresses. So, basically,  I have agreed to honor their request because the simple fact is that it’s their private property and I was there on those upper floors without their knowledge. Since it’s not OK for them to sneak into my house and take pictures and put ’em up on the internutz, down comes the pic.

I have no idea what the plans are for this hall and the rest of the building. But in the meantime I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t become a gym..

After the jump, a brief bio on the building’s historical significance excerpted from the Glendale Register of Historic Places.

The first beginnings of the Masonic Order in Glendale occurred in 1905. On March 15, 1905 Unity Lodge No. 368 was organized by residents with the name Unity chosen because the
membership was almost evenly distributed between Glendale and Tropico.

It was not until 1910 that the Lodge had its own permanent home at 232 S. Brand Blvd. At this location a two-story brick Masonic Temple was erected by Unity Lodge No. 368 which served as a meeting place for the Masons until 1928. Due to the increasing number of organizations using the premises such as the Order of the Eastern Star, Royal Arch Masons, Knights of Templar, White Shrine of Jerusalem, Order of de Molay, and the Shrine Club, plans were begun in the early 1920s to construct a building which would accommodate all the Masonic organizations.

The architect commissioned to design this grand new structure on S. Brand was Arthuy Lindley. It was not until 1928, however, through the combined assets of the various Masonic organizations that the structure was built. The Masonic groups remained as tenants until 1952 when the Glendale Masonic Temple Association was organized and authorized to purchase property at the southeast corner of N. Maryland Ave and E. California.

The Temple suffered from the excessive optimism of its planners. Containing five full floors and five partial floors, the structure sat nearly vacant for almost four decades after the construction of the newer, smaller facility. Historically, however, it represents one of the most ambitious building endeavors in the City’s past. In 1992 a live theater company, A Noise Within, found success there and rapidly expanded its use of several floors of the building.

2 thoughts on “It Caught My Eye: Heaven On The Seventh Floor”

  1. The excessive optimism you mention is is not unusual. The Detroit Masonic Temple is an awesome building with a similar history. There is an unfinished swimming pool on the sixth floor, and in addition to the huge main theatre, there’s an additional one that was never used.

    Cool photos. Thanks for the tour.

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