Purpose-built in 1923 as a meeting lodge and commercial space, the Ashlar Lodge Masonic Temple is an excellent example of the Classical Period Revival architectural style. The rigid symmetrical front elevation that typifies this style has been modified by the placement of the lodge entrance door at the extreme eastern side of the building. The door placement accommodates the ground-floor commercial space the Lodge depended on to cover building expenses. Characteristic elements of this style, such as the pediment over the lodge entry, were intended to suggest antiquity and permanence.
Still used for lodge meetings, the building exemplifies the historic and continuing importance of fraternal societies to the cultural, economic and social life of Nanaimo. The building occupies the same site as an earlier lodge that was built in 1873, the first Freemason’s Lodge in British Columbia.
The Lodge is part of a grouping of historic commercial buildings located on Nanaimo’s main downtown thoroughfare. Its prominent corner location, with large storefront windows on both the front and side elevations, adds to its street presence.
The Lodge is also significant for its association with Alexander Ernest Henderson, best known, in partnership with George W. Grant, for the design of the Vancouver City Hospital (now known as the Heather Pavilion) of Vancouver General Hospital in 1903. Locally, Henderson also designed the Nanaimo Hospital on Machleary Street.