Masonic Temple


Hollywood Masonic Temple, now known as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre, is a building on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The building was designed by architect John C. Austin, also noted as the lead architect of the Griffith Observatory. In 1921, the Hollywood lodge of the Masons relocated from their existing lodge on the current site of the Kodak Theatre. The construction of the new three-story building was led by lodge master, Charles E. Toberman, who was responsible for the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Max Factor Building. The original building cost of $176,678, a sum of $56,421 allotted to furniture and fixtures and $36,295 for the purchase of the lot. When the new temple opened, it was one of the most substantial structures in Hollywood. It had a billiard room, pipe organ, ladies parlor, ballroom and lodge rooms. One writer described the building as "unsurpassed for beauty, attractiveness and richness of equipment." The architect, John C. Austin also worked on the Shrine Auditorium, Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles City Hall. The grand ballroom was opened in February 1923; the opening ball featured a program on "the evolution of dance" featuring dancer Lucille Means. Many of Hollywood's elite over the years have been Masons, including Oliver Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, W.C. Fields, Cecil B. DeMille, D.W. Griffith, John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Stories of a secret tunnel running from Grauman's Chinese theater under Hollywood Boulevard to the Masonic Temple have been confirmed by current ABC employees (specifically employees of the Jimmy Kimmel Live show), however the tunnel has been sealed off and cannot be accessed anymore. It's said that the tunnel served as a means of transporting illegal liquor to and from both establishments during prohibition. This tunnel would have been demolished for the construction of the subway line under Hollywood Boulevard. During the Great Depression, many of the Masons lost their savings, and the Masons were forced to rent the ground floor to a social club that installed an illegal slot machine. After World War II, the Masons resumed full use of the structure, and in 1948, more than 300 people crowded into the Masonic Temple to attend a memorial service for D. W. Griffith. In 1969, longtime Mason, Harold Lloyd, was honored in a ceremony as his name was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in a location directly in front of the Masonic Temple. By the late 1970s, Masonic membership had declined, and the Masons rented out ground-floor space to a restaurant. By 1982, the Masons were no longer using the building, and Hollywood Boulevard was becoming an eyesore. The Masons sold the building to singer Rosita LaBello who converted the structure into the Hollywood Opera & Theater Company. The building's life with LaBello's opera and theater company was short-lived, and in 1987 the building was renovated and reopened with much fanfare as the Hollywood Live Entertainment Pavilions. Detroit developer, James Hoseyni, invested $1.5 million to convert the building into a versatile entertainment center including a cabaret, jazz club, and an 800-person dance club. With the renovation of the El Capitan Theater next door in the early 1990s, Disney began leasing the building for special events, including its use as a "toy box" for the 1995 premiere of "Toy Story." In 1998, Disney purchased the building. In 2002, after extensive renovation, Disney reopened the building as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre. Disney restored original fixtures, including backlighted stone filigree, wrought iron torchieres, Batchelder tiles and old post boxes once used by Masonic officers. As of 2008, ABC's late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! originates from a studio in the building.

Click to Enlarge
First Masonic Temple on Highland Ave just north of Hollywood Blvd.
Click to Enlarge
Groundbreaking for the Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd. at Ordhid Ave.
Click to Enlarge
Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd. at Orchid Ave.
Click to Enlarge
Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
Masonic TempleFirst Masonic Temple on Highland Ave just north of Hollywood Blvd.
MT-001
1915
Masonic TempleGroundbreaking for the Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd. at Ordhid Ave.
MT-002
1921
Masonic TempleMasonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd. at Orchid Ave.
MT-003
1925
Masonic TempleMasonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
MT-004
1928
Click to Enlarge
Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
Click to Enlarge
Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
Click to Enlarge
Masonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
 
Masonic TempleMasonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
MT-005
1953
Masonic TempleMasonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
MT-007
1968
Masonic TempleMasonic Temple on Hollywood Blvd.
MT-008
1968