The history of the Cincinnati Masonic Center dates back to August 16, 1916, when the trustees of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Cincinnati, received a letter from the Cincinnati Masonic Temple Company stating they had contracted to purchase from Charles Stedman Becker the property known as #430 Sycamore Street for the sum of $13,900 cash and two pieces of property on the south side of East 5th Street. The lot at 319 E. 5th Street was purchased from Clara B. Fletcher for $14,500 cash; the other at 321 E. 5th Street from Charlotte Murray for $14,500 cash.
At the May 1918 meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was announced that the property known as 317 E. 5th St. had been purchased and that the Rite was now the owner of the properties known as 317, 319, and 321 E. 5th St.
In total, the following properties were purchased by the Scottish Rite, Syrian Shrine, and the Cincinnati Masonic Temple Co. in preparation for the construction of the new Masonic Temple, to include the Taft Theatre, Scottish Rite Cathedral, the Masonic Temple, and the Syrian Shrine Mosque (never built).
The Nevada Building — S.E. corner, 5th and Sycamore
Kroger Bros. — S.E. corner, 5th and Sycamore (ground level of the Nevada Building)
303 E. 5th St. — Eugene Frank
305 E. 5th St. — Gem Laundry
307 E. 5th St. — William H. Mullen
309 E. 5th St. — S.S. Kresge Co.
317 to 321 E. 5th St. — Phillips and Murray property
325 to 327 E. 5th St. — Liquid Carbonic Co.
323 to 329 E. 5th St. — Charlotte Murray Heirs property
The John Van Range Building — S.W. corner, 5th and Broadway
415 Broadway — Hoffman property
417 Broadway — Scottish Rite Cathedral (Old Seventh Presbyterian Church)
425 Broadway — The John Van Range Building
436 Sycamore — Ed. Cofer
The Nevada Building‚ S.E. corner, 5th and Sycamore
In addition, there was a gift from Mary M. Emery of a strip of 30 ft extending from Sycamore, east to the alley. These 30 ft would make up what the Masonic Temple would lose from its frontage on 5th Street, as that street was scheduled to be widened.
Necessary property transfers were set in motion on May 15, 1925. A cornerstone dedication took place on October 20, 1926, and a formal dedication was held on January 26, 1928. The artist’s sketch pictured above dates to the 1920s.