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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Nanticoke Lodge No. 172 AF & AM
Inventory No.: CAR-377
Other Name(s): Nanticoke Lodge; Masonic Temple
Date Listed: 6/2/2014
Location: 112-116 N. Main Street, Federalsburg, Caroline County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1919-20
Description: Nanticoke Lodge No. 172, A.F. & A.M was built in 1919-1920 at 112-116 North Main Street in the central business district of Federalsburg. The building faces east with the longitudinal axis oriented north/south. The 2 ½-story 80'4" by 68'4" commercial block is supported on a poured concrete foundation, and the exterior walls are laid in ribbed, hollow-core terra cotta blocks covered with a textured, pebble-dash type stucco. The building corners, window sills, and arched window heads are accented in red brick. Each elevation is pierced on the second story by round arched window openings holding 12/1 sash. The steeply pitched gable-on-hip roof features and open eave with exposed and decorated rafter tails. The roof is covered with asphalt shingles currently, but it was originally sheathed with asbestos shingles. Three gable roofed dormers, also with extended eaves, mark the east roof slope, and there are pairs of gable roofed dormers on the north and south roof slopes. A single gable roofed dormer is located on the west slope. Originally, the edge of the low pitched gable roof was trimmed with a cross stick balustrade. The first floor front has an intact early 20th-century colonial Revival entrance flanked by glass commercial storefronts. The center entrance opens into a hall and center stair providing access to the former second floor lodge room and auditorium. The interior spaces have survived largely undisturbed with pressed metal ceilings featuring neoclassical motifs. The plastered side walls are defined by evenly spaced pilasters. Located centrally is a multi-landing staircase rising between the first floor commercial spaces. The staircase is laid out in a series of steps and landings associated with Masonic numerology in a 3, 5, 7, and 9 order which is associated with Masonic spiritual and allegorical themes. There are two initial steps and the first landing equaling three steps, followed by four steps and a second landing signifying the number five, then six steps and a third landing equaling seven, and finally eight steps and the second floor level referencing nine. All four numbers relate to multiple meanings in Freemasonry and religious symbolism that is a large part of Masonic literature and catechism. For instance, the number three refers to the "three most excellent Masters" and the three craft degrees, and in Masonic religious teachings, the number three aligns with the Holy Trinity, the three virtues of hope, love/charity, and unity, and the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet G, as a Masonic symbol for God. The other letters, 5, 7 and 9 are filled similarly with Masonic symbolism and religious meaning. On the second floor a large stage survives in the auditorium, which also retains its original pressed metal ceiling. The former lodge room has been remodeled with a dropped ceiling, but the original pressed metal ceiling survives above. The west room, known as the "ante-room," is entered through the second floor hall door. Between the ante-room and the old lodge meeting room is a narrow hallway that provides access to a small closet-type space known as the "preparation room." The interior woodwork, including early 20th-century five-panel doors and plain surrounds, and ogee molded baseboard trim, survives intact. A center, enclosed attic stair rises above the first floor staircase, and exposed in the unfinished attic space and has heavily framed terra cotta block interior partition. The attic is a large unfinished space and has heavily framed W-shaped trusses which are bolted to sandwiched wood girders that span the full breadth of the building. Significance: The Nanticoke Lodge No. 172, A.F. & A.M building, erected in 1919-20, is locally significant as an architecturally distinguished and well preserved example of a mixed use commercial block in the central business district of Federalsburg. The handsome Colonial Revival building reflects the transformation of the construction industry that took place around the turn of the 20th century, as transportation improvements allowed mass produced building materials to be shipped long distances. It also exemplifies the practical combination, seen elsewhere in the region during the period, of income-producing commercial space on the first floor and lodge rooms above. Elements of the building’s decorative detailing and plan--including a staircase designed along Masonic principles of numerology--provide evidence of its original function. The Nanticoke Lodge was one of two purpose-built Masonic lodges surviving in Caroline County, Maryland, the other being the Law Building in Denton (see CAR-201). Conceived on a generous scale with two large storefronts on the ground floor and a lodge room and auditorium on the second, the Colonial Revival influenced building was erected with ribbed, hollow-core terra cotta block walls covered with a combination of pebble dash-textured stucco and brick accents. Stylistic features linked to the Colonial Revival include the neoclassical entrance surround with a pediment and scroll-shaped console brackets. Although the front door has been replaced, a leaded glass transom survives above, and it is distinguished by an etched glass Masonic emblem. Also reflective of the Colonial Revival are the brick built corner quoins and the round headed 12/1-sash window openings that define all second-floor elevations. A cross-stick balustrade originally accented the crest of the hip roof. The first and second floor interiors are fitted with original pressed metal ceilings featuring neoclassical motifs and geometric patterns. The side walls on both floors are defined by plain pilasters. Other than a few later partitions on the first floor, and a dropped ceiling in the former lodge room spaces, the interiors have survived essentially intact. In the former auditorium/movie theater the stage features neoclassical pilasters on each side of a flat arch. The building is also significant as an excellent example of the transformation of the building industry that took place during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the manufacture of building products was fully modernized and industrialized. New materials, mass-produced in factories nationwide, were shipped economically and expeditiously by a mature set of railroads and steamship lines that served the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Ribbed terra cotta blocks were not manufactured locally, nor were the elaborately decorated sheets of pressed metal ceiling panels and cornices. For the most part, materials were shipped to Federalsburg via a branch line of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, which by the late 19th century was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The construction of the building with terra cotta block walls and a stuccoed exterior with brick accents points to three major trends in construction enabled by the mass-production of materials accessed by a modern transportation system; building was more inexpensively and expeditiously accomplished, and at the same time, built with better preventive measures against the threat of fire. Federalsburg had experienced a destructive fire in 1898, and during the decades that followed principal commercial blocks were erected in brick, concrete block, and in this case, terra cotta block covered with stucco. The roof was originally covered with asbestos shingles. The Nanticoke Lodge Masonic Temple building also represents a tradition for Masonic lodges erected on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries whereby the ground floor is devoted to income producing commercial space and th


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