In 1887, Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz saw the rise of a unique castle-like structure, spearheaded by Charles Wellington Davis, a renowned architect known for his work on Santa Cruz landmarks. This peculiar edifice, driven by the vision of Dr. Oscar L. Gordon, a former grand master of the Santa Cruz Masonic Lodge, embodied Masonic history in its design, featuring a style dubbed “Crusader Gothic.” Notable for its central watchtower and Islamic-style bay windows, the building stood as a testament to Davis’s architectural prowess and Gordon’s guiding influence.

The site became a central hub for the Chinese Freemasons in Santa Cruz’s Chinatown, overlooking the scenic San Lorenzo River. It presented a blend of architectural elements and cultural significance, as noted in the Ross Eric Gibson collection.

On March 26, 1887, Masons from various regions converged for a grand parade, culminating in a ceremonial gathering at the new Temple meeting hall. This hall, serving multiple Masonic orders, was adorned with symbolic decorations and became a daily venue for various Masonic activities. The event featured contributions from prominent individuals like Orlando J. Lincoln, a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln, and highlighted the Masons’ historical commitment to democratic principles and equality.

Gordon provided an overview of the Masons’ history in Santa Cruz, tracing back to their early meetings in the 1850s. The evolution of the Masonic presence in the area was marked by significant growth and the establishment of various chapters and buildings, leading to the creation of the 1887 Masonic Castle.

This building was an eclectic mix of architectural styles and served as a focal point for the community. It played a role in the integration of Chinese settlers into Santa Cruz society, with many joining the Chinese Freemasons, a group that emphasized values like brotherly love, relief, and truth.

The event also included a banquet in the building’s ballroom, known as the Jewel Theater, where Masonic symbols and emblems were prominently featured. The gathering reflected on the Masons’ principles of honesty, equality, and ethics, embodied in their symbolic jewels.

A highlight of the evening was a speech by visiting Mason John Ellis Young, who delved into the historical roots of the Masons and the Knights Templars. This narrative covered the Templars’ rise and fall, their wealth and influence, and their eventual persecution and dissolution in the early 14th century.

The article also touched on the impact of the Masons on cultural works, including Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” an opera infused with Masonic themes. The narrative concluded with closing remarks from Louis Schwartz, a prominent local figure, who expressed gratitude and looked forward to a harmonious evening.

This historical account not only sheds light on the architectural and cultural significance of the Masonic Castle in Santa Cruz but also encapsulates a rich tapestry of Masonic history, community integration, and artistic influence, weaving together local and global narratives.

Source: santacruzsentinel