To become historic a building has to stand the test of time and overcome multiple threats and obstacles. Many buildings are lost to fire, tornadoes, earthquakes and even developers before they have a chance to become historically significant.
Downtown Plano is lucky to have numerous historic buildings, including two that have been adapted and repurposed as museums. Most people are familiar with the Interurban Railway Museum but downtown has another, lesser-known museum – the North Texas Masonic Historical Museum and Library, located on the first floor of the Plano Masonic Lodge.
Just off 15th Street at 1414 J Avenue, behind McCall Plaza and adjacent to The Fillmore Pub, the building that houses the museum was originally known as the Moore House Hotel. It was built in 1898, replacing the original Moore House that was destroyed in the devastating fire of 1895.
The book “Plano, Texas the Early Days,” contains a passage from the diary of Mrs. C.S. Haggard describing the fire. Mrs. Haggard not only documented the destruction of the original Moore House, but also the burning of Bowser Skiles Implement & Opera, a dry goods store, two saddler shops, a furniture store, two grocery stores and the National Bank, including the bank’s upper story which housed the offices of Plano professionals.
The Moore House provided respite for weary travelers on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, located where DART tracks now run. The railroad depot was located at the present site of McCall Plaza, making the Moore House a convenient place to spend the night. Due to the hotel’s close proximity to the railroad depot, folk tales persist that prostitutes used the Moore House for a home base. Research could neither confirm nor “put to bed” these salacious rumors.
The building was eventually purchased in August 1924 by the Plano Masonic Lodge for $5,000.00 from J.W. and Molly Shepard. A visitor to the building will notice the date of 1925 at the top of the façade along with the lodge number, 768. A significant year for the building is 1925 as the front porch was removed and exterior stucco added. That year also represents the date that the building became the permanent home of the Plano Masonic Lodge.
The Lodge operates the North Texas Masonic Historical Museum and Library and is open to the public every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. and closed on holidays. The library contains almost 2,000 historical and Masonic books. The museum preserves archives and collections of not only North Texas Masonic history, but also the rich history of Plano, Collin County and North Texas.
Recently, the Plano Masonic Lodge made the decision to put the building up for sale, citing difficulty for its members (some elderly) to find convenient parking in the busy Downtown Plano neighborhood. Speaking on behalf of the Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, we would like to see the historic building preserved and reused. It is a significant component of the downtown Plano historic district. The building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places; it’s over 50 years old, has a unique, period architecture style and is part of two historic periods in our country (Western Migration and the Railroad Steam Era).
Editor’s note: Thankfully the building was not put up for sale and the Masons remain in this location.Museum and Library Website >