Occupying the same lot as the 1855 Lodge building it is modeled on, the Columbia Masonic Hall is an authentic reproduction of the Gold Rush era structure used by Columbia [Masonic] Lodge No. 28. The original building was torn down in 1890 after miners had depleted the town’s nearby gold fields and turned to mining the town itself. In 1945, the State of California created Columbia State Historic Park from the remains of the city’s historic buildings. The lot at Washington and Broadway, where Columbia [Masonic] Lodge No. 28 formerly stood, was purchased by the Columbia Historic Park Association in 1947 and sold to the State of California for one dollar and incorporated into the historic district park. The Masonic Hall that stands on the property today was constructed by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of California in 1950, and given to the State of California in exchange for a fifty-year lease.
ARG Conservation Services (ARG/CS) was retained by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of California as the design-build contractor for the remodel of the Columbia Masonic Hall’s aging exhibit space. Working with Architectural Resources Group and interpretive planning consultant, Daniel Quan Design, ARG/CS undertook the implementation of the newly envisioned exhibit space.
Following the removal of all displays and fixtures, the exhibit’s three existing viewing alcoves and their exterior ramps were demolished. The underlying floor beneath the existing alcove flooring was repaired, and the flooring and framing were altered for three new, concrete exterior access ramps. A new forty-five-foot-long wood wall with laminated glass viewing panels was constructed to divide the building’s lower floor into an exhibit area and one continuous viewing alcove spanning the width of the lower floor. New graphics panels and stands were produced and fabricated, and then installed in the exhibit area and viewing alcove.
The electrical system was upgraded to meet the needs of the exhibit’s newly installed audio and lighting program. All of the surfaces in the new viewing alcove were painted, and the soft wood flooring was refinished. Work on the upper level included wood window restoration and maintenance of painted finishes.
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of California