The Queen Anne Masonic Lodge has been nominated for landmark status ahead of plans to renovate the 114-year-old building as a multi-family residence.

The building at 1608 Fourth Ave. W. is being redeveloped by Rich Rogers with R&R Development and Eiffel Tour, which plans to preserve the building and create townhomes.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will decide whether to accept the nomination during its meeting 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, in the Boards & Commissions Room L2-80 in city hall, 400 Fourth Ave.

Before being purchased by the Masonic Lodge No. 242 in 1924, the building was constructed by the Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company as the first exchange building on Queen Anne Hill, used by switchboard operators to connect customers until it outgrew its space.

Sunset merged with Portland-based Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1917, and the Garfield Exchange moved to a newly constructed building down the street to 1529 Fourth Ave. W. in 1921. That building was approved for landmark status in December, and is being redeveloped to include more than 20 new apartment units. The landmarks board found that building was both associated with a significant aspect of cultural, political, or economic heritage and embodied a distinctive visible characteristic of an architectural style, period, or method of construction.

The same year Pacific finished constructing its new Garfield Exchange building, Masonic Lodge No. 242 (Queen Anne Masonic Lodge) was established, and began meeting in the Austin A. Bell building in Belltown.

A building committee was formed in 1923 to find a location for the lodge on Queen Anne Hill, and the old Garfield Exchange building came on the market in 1924.

“The company offered its older building to the masons, setting a price at $20,000, and ‘most of the committee and lodge brothers were in favor of buying,’ ” according to the nomination report submitted by Susan Boyle, BOLA Architecture+Planning, on March 7. “However, the chairman of the building committee, John C. Blackford insisted on waiting. Two weeks later, on August 1, 1924, the Lodge purchased the subject building for $6,500 ($95,300 in today’s dollars).”

Boyle didn’t have information on the original designer or builder, but lodge member J.H. Wilson served as the contractor for the renovation, which included moving a central stair to open up main floor space. The lodge’s kitchen was converted from a coal-fired stove in 1938, and the main room was renovated in the 1960s to replace the “hotel style” lamps.

“During the early 1980s a chair lift was installed [and] in 1992 and 1993 the wiring and plumbing was replaced, and the rest rooms, kitchen and dining room were remodeled,” according to the report.

The lodge room was renovated in 2006.

“ ‘The existing walls were taken down and new wall board installed. Existing bench seats and [chairs] were refinished and recovered. Old theatre type seats were replaced with new bench seats and new carpet installed upstairs and on the stairway. … Flooring in the entry and dining hall was removed and new hardwood flooring installed,’ ” according to the report.

There is a sailing ship on the front door, Boyle’s report notes, but it has no association with Mason symbolism.

It remains unclear what happened to Lodge No. 242, but the masons did come under fire in 2017 when it was revealed that they had been renting space to a white nationalist group, Northwest Forum, which had claimed to be a writing group. The revenue from Northwest Forum was later donated to an anti-racist charity. The Queen Anne Masonic Lodge's website had not been updated since then, and was accessible earlier this week. Attempts to check the website on March 29 came back with an "access denied" message.

While the building was reportedly acquired in 2018, the King County Recorders Office reports no record of sale, and the taxpayer on the property is simply listed as Queen Anne Masonic Temple.

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