Asheville Masonic Temple opens for events

For many, the Masonic Temple at 80 Broadway in downtown Asheville is intriguing and mysterious, in part because the temple's doors have been closed to the general public for years. That's changed. In an effort to reconnect with Asheville's artistic community, and to help raise money for building renovations, the temple will be hosting public events and concerts in a 270-seat auditorium/theatre within the building.

Open, sesame: The Masonic Temple has opened up its 270-seat auditorium for public concerts, dramatic performances and lectures. Photos by Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt

The Land of Sky Symphonic Band performed there on Thursday, May 20. On June 5, singer/songwriter and folk musician Dave Wendelin and an ensemble of guest musicians take the stage at 8 p.m. (by donation, with partial proceeds benefiting temple restorations). The auditorium may even host the Montford Park Players during their winter season.

Ron Lambe, events committee chair and a five-year Mason with the Asheville Temple, last week gave Xpress an informal tour of the historic building, which was designed by Mason and renowned architect Richard Sharp Smith in 1913. The temple opened in 1915 and became headquarters for various branches of the Masonic order.

Lambe noted that the temple historically was more involved in supporting the greater Asheville community: During the Spanish Influenza epidemic in 1918, the building functioned as a hospital and emergency ward, and in the 1950s the building was designated as a public bomb shelter. In recent years, however, the stately building has been closed for all public use.

Moses painted this: One of the hand-painted sets at the temple illustrates an Egyptian court scene, created by a Chicago artist named Moses in 1951.

The auditorium is located on the third floor of the building, with a horseshoe-shaped balcony overlooking the stage from the fourth floor. This section of the Temple was occupied by the Scottish Rite, and the auditorium was once referred to as the Scottish Rite Cathedral. Painted landscapes and backdrops are stacked in the eaves of the cathedral, hung in the fly loft above the stage. These elaborate paintings, which are being stored for future use, were once used for Masonic lessons, Lambe says, where biblical stories and teachings were dramatically enacted for educational purposes.

In addition to the auditorium, the temple also has a large meeting room, library, study rooms and a dining hall.
To schedule a show or event in the auditorium, contact Lambe at or 252-3924.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Asheville Masonic Temple opens for events

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.