Renovated Masonic Temple Provides New Venue in East Liverpool

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – When pottery was king in this river city, the potter magnates built homes reflecting the fortunes they were making from the industry, and James Godwin was no exception when he had his Colonial Revival-style residence constructed 134 years ago at 422 Broadway.

Unfortunately, Godwin died before the home was completed. But his nephew, Homer Knowles, of Knowles, Taylor & Knowles pottery, moved his family in upon completion, living there until selling it to the local masons organization in 1910.

During the intervening years, Riddle Lodge #315 has called the building its home after having relocated its operations several times since its inception in the city in 1859.

When the masons moved into its new lodge on Broadway, they boasted 228 members, increasing to 244 within a year and seeing growth in most years thereafter.

In 1922, East Liverpool Masonic Lodge #681 started operations at the location, with membership composed primarily of Crucible Steel workers.

Today, a move is afoot to help bring more members into the fold while offering the community use of the building that has served the organization the past 114 years. 

The Masonic Temple in East Liverpool as renovations began.

Located in the heart of the city’s downtown historic district, the Masonic Temple was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. 

With plans to improve the historic building, the masons were able to use a $3.5 million endowment to start renovating the landmark building in 2018, starting with a new roof, followed the next year by the start of a total renovation.

“We were operating on a shoestring budget for decades” before receiving the endowment, secretary John Miller said. 

Initially, they planned on installing an elevator, which the building did not have, but the project snowballed from there due, in part, to state requirements and regulations.

Now the building not only has an elevator but new plumbing, wiring, lighting, restrooms, heating and air conditioning as well as a state-of-the-art audio-visual system available in the various venue rooms. There’s also a new commercially equipped kitchen, ADA-compliant facilities, alarm systems and more.

Although work slowed down during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, it picked up again the next couple of years, according to Miller.

Local companies were used on the project as much as possible, according to Miller, who said Diloreto Construction served as the general contractor, with ProTech Electric, JP Plumbing Inc., Cowan Masonry and Hissom Roofing doing most of the work.

During the time the temple was closed for renovations, the masons met at the Wellsville Lodge and the nearby Church of Christ, until occupancy was permitted in April 2023.

Parquet flooring and a tin ceiling highlight the parlor at the Masonic Temple.

The result of the renovation is evident both outside and inside, “where historical grandeur meets modern elegance,” according to a description on the Masonic Temple’s website.

The exterior has been enhanced with white trim, new stonework and new historic lighting made possible with a Facade Improvement Grant through the city’s Community Improvement Corporation.

Stepping inside from the veranda, guests are greeted in the foyer by the original majestic, wooden staircase and restored hardwood flooring leading to a landing where a portrait speaks of the building’s historic past.

The veranda, foyer and adjacent parlor can accommodate up to 40 people, combining elegance with coziness for any variety of gatherings.

The upstairs offers a bright conference center that seats 40 people for meetings, seminars, workshops or other events.

As was the norm in days past, the home was built with its own ballroom. The one in the Masonic Temple features a stage, a large fireplace, hardwood floors, original decorative tin ceilings and chandeliers.

A carpeted ladies lounge with vanities, restroom and other amenities has served at least one bride and her entourage since the venue opened six months ago, allowing them to prepare and then proceed to the parlor for the wedding ceremony, according to Miller.

The new commercial kitchen in the East Liverpool Masonic Temple.

A social hall, in a rear section of the building adjacent to the newly equipped kitchen, seats 125 and is suitable for luncheons, workshops, community gatherings or receptions.

From 8 to 11:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, the masons hold a public breakfast in the social hall.

The cost to rent individual rooms is comparable to other area event venues, according to Miller, who said all those details are available on the Masonic Temple’s website.

Catering and dinners on-site also can be provided by the masons. Schools can take prom and homecoming pictures in the temple at no charge.

Miller said the idea behind renovating the temple and offering it to the public is twofold: to provide a new venue in the city as it makes improvements and to promote the masons.

“We’re trying to work with other organizations toward a common goal. Last year, we had a Christmas tree auction [on the veranda] as part of the city’s festivities,” Miller said.

Promoting masonry and gaining new members is also a goal, and it is hoped those using the venue will ask about the organization and possibly seek membership.

Individuals age 18 and older are welcome to join.

“How you join is you ask. We’ll be using that foot traffic to build membership,” Miller said.

There are rooms in the building dedicated to the masons that are off-limits as rentals, but tours can be arranged that include those rooms and the artifacts and photos on display. The rooms depict a long history of an organization that, according to members, hinges on the Bible and its teachings, as well as three things masons try to live for: faith, hope and charity.

“We have a lot of fun and meet a lot of friends all over Ohio, lifetime friends,” according to 65-year member Bonnie Blevins.

For more information on the Masonic Temple, contact the building manager at 330 385 0172 or

Pictured at top: The Masonic Temple in East Liverpool has been renovated and is available as an event venue.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.