The city of Detroit may be on the brink of financial disaster, but one man isn’t going to let a vital part of the city’s music past go without a fight.
Detroit’s historic Masonic Temple was on the verge of foreclosure due to a tax bill of $142,000 that the Masonic Temple Association could not come up with. Enter an anonymous donor who paid the entire tab in full, thus preventing the Temple from falling into foreclosure.
The Detroit Masonic Temple has a rich cultural heritage, having hosted hundreds of musical acts over the last century.
It was designed by George Mason and opened in 1926 with a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ossip Gabrilowitsch. The building’s unique design includes three theaters (one was never completed, but is sometimes used by movie-production crews), a Shrine building, the Chapel, eight lodge rooms, a 17,500 square foot drill hall, two ballrooms, office space, a cafeteria, dining rooms, a barber shop, 16 bowling lanes – 1037 rooms in total. There is also a powerhouse that generates all electricity for the complex.
Mason also incorporated the artistic conceptions of the sculptor, Corrado Parducci, in the building’s magnificent lobby, which was an adaptation of the interior of a castle he had visited in Palermo, Sicily. Parducci also designed light fixtures and chandeliers, decorative arches, medallions, plaster decorations, and a myriad of other artistic details that are unique to the many varied spaces in the building.
The Detroit-born White played at the Temple many times in his career. Also, his mother was an usher at the Temple. In honor of the gift, the Masonic Temple Association said it would rename the temple’s Cathedral Theater as the Jack White Theater.
The Masonic Temple has been a hub of of the city’s music past, hosting such musicians as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Gene Autry, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Judy Garland, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Tony Bennett, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Mitch Ryder, the White Stripes, Van Morrison, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, The Who, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, the MC5 and hundreds of others.