History of the California Masonic Memorial Temple
The California Masonic Memorial Temple, located at 1111 California Street in San Francisco, was dedicated on Sept. 29, 1958. Revered in many guidebooks as an icon of mid-century modernist architecture, the structure is located at the top of Nob Hill across the street from Grace Cathedral. It is a testament to simple lines, open spaces, and heavy materials, and was designed to be a "beacon of light for all Masons."
The building has become a beacon for its surrounding community as well. It serves as both a Masonic building and a public venue, housing the Masons of California Grand Lodge administrative offices, a library and museum, and a highly regarded event space, including an auditorium, exhibit hall, and gathering spaces.
The rental spaces and attached five-story parking garage comprise the Nob Hill Masonic Center, which is a separate entity from Grand Lodge offices. All revenue over operating costs supports the charitable programs of California Masons. To learn more about the Masons of California and our culture of philanthropy, please visit www.freemason.org.
Artwork and Culture
Located on the second floor mezzanine, the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry offers an educational resource for Masons and non-Masons alike. The Coil collection includes historic records and Masonic artifacts such as jewels, aprons, ceremonial tools, and photography from throughout California.
The Temple is well known for its luminous 38-by-48-foot endomosaic mural, crafted by celebrated California artist Emile Norman. This historical window incorporates thousands of bits of metal, parchment, felt, linen, silk, natural foliage, thinly sliced vegetable matter, shells and sea life, plus 180 colors of stained glass. The lower portion of the frieze is comprised of actual gravels and soils of the 58 counties of California and the Islands of Hawaii. The window depicts the history of Masonic heritage in California.
As its name suggests, the Temple also serves as a war memorial. The building´s façade features a sculpture, also by Emile Norman, of four 12-foot-high figures, representing the branches of the armed forces. They are accompanied by a frieze of 14 marble figures engaged in a tug of war, representing the struggle between good and evil. The sculpture is inscribed: "Dedicated to Our Masonic Brethren Who Died in the Cause of Freedom."
The auditorium of the Nob Hill Masonic Center is renowned for its clear acoustics and open arrangement, allowing for excellent views and sound quality from every seat. Able to seat 3,165 guests, the Center has hosted some of the world´s most famous performers and personalities, from Van Morrison to President Obama. The venue is particularly known for its jazz performances, which over the years have included such well-known artists as Wynton Marsalis, BB King, and Diana Krall. Lectures, commencement ceremonies, and shareholder meetings are also held in the venue throughout the year.
The Center´s 16,500-square-foot exhibition hall, located beneath the auditorium, has hosted a myriad of diverse events - from car shows to "Star Trek" conventions. Various organizations also lease the Grand Lobby and the California Room for more intimate receptions and parties.
Rentals of the Nob Hill Masonic Center are managed by Live Nation. For facility rentals information, please click here.
For information about the Masons of California, please visit www.freemason.org.