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The Rhinelander Masonic Temple was dedicated on June 4th 1931. Freemasonry in Rhinelander has included in its membership many of the business and professional men who helped establish the city, and took active roles in its development over the years.

 

 Rhinelander Lodge # 242 was organized on March 4th 1889, seven years after the city was founded, under a dispensation. It got its charter in June of that year. There were 14 Charter members and their names ran like a Who’s Who of prominent citizens in the young city. The first Mason raised to master in the new lodge was Archie Sieve Wright a timber cruiser and estimator.

 

 The first Masonic Temple was in rented quarter on the upper floor of a store building downtown. In 1896 it was moved to a building on the east side of Brown Street where the Hilgerman building stands, in 1898 the Masons rented a more elaborate hall above the New North weekly newspaper on Stevens Street. Many people from Minocqua joined the Rhinelander lodge in the early years, among them Dr. Gale Huber. The Minocqua men formed their own lodge in 1921. The idea of building a Masonic Temple was discussed vocationally, and in 1921 the lodge purchased the lot on which the building in now located for $7,500.00. There was a house on the lot at the time. Two attempts to raise the funds fell short, but finally a financial plan was worked out and the building committee let the contract to the Seiman Construction Company of Milwaukee.

 

Edward Forbes, a lodge member, had underwritten the arrangement, thus enabling the building to begin in July of 1930. He could be recognized as the “father of the temple

 

At the time of the dedication it was noted the lodge had grown from the nucleus of 14 in 1896 to strength of 240. By 1964, when the lodge celebrated its 75th anniversary”. it had processed 540 men to the Master Mason degree.

 

Over the years the lodge building has had occasional face lifting, but none as thorough as the one completed in 1996. The temple builders had left one annoying problem in the lodge room. A resonating echo that occurred when one spoke directly under the dome. In 1959 some work was done to reduce the problem and in the 1980s several other improvements were made, including a new roof.

 

More improvements were made starting in 1993 and included new front steps, a lower level storeroom converted into a museum, refurbishing of the entire building. The dome was treated with acoustic paint containing particles of Styrofoam and a textured carpet was installed. Together, these measures accomplished the purpose of controlling the echo.

 

Other improvements included renovation of the boiler system, repair and repainting of the exterior windows, replacement of stained glass windows, modification of the public address system, and installation of a fresh air circulation system.

 

Minocqua lodge # 330 merged with Rhinelander in 1982 becoming Rhinelander Lakeland lodge # 242. In 1998 Island City Lodge # 330 was chartered in Minocqua and the Rhinelander lodge returned to its original name, Rhinelander Lodge # 242.

 

  

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