Dominated by large steel windows filled with green slag glass, this Masonic Temple in Oberlin, Kansas, was built in 1931. The buff brick facade is elaborated with glazed terra cotta ornament which enhances the Art Deco styling of the building. Although the ground floor has seen some modifications over the years, the building still retains a great deal of originality. Designed by German-born Samuel Siegfried Voigt who came to the United States as a child, the building’s Art Deco styling reflected the current vogue. Voigt was noted for emulating popular architectural trends throughout his career of over two decades rather than working within a more focused range of expression. He died in 1937 at the age of 52 after having designed hundreds of buildings; many of them were churches or schools. Following a look at the Masonic Temple building, we’ll look at two other Art Deco designs by Voigt.
Stylized and fluted pilasters of terra cotta add verticality to the wide facade. The picture window at the lower right was originally a doorway mirroring the one at the other end of the building which is a later replacement of aluminum and glass; the original was of wood and glass. The rectangular panels over the later awning conceal original stained glass transom sash. Four doors beneath the awning lead to tenant space.
The square and compass – the most easily recognizable Masonic symbol – caps the two center-most pilasters. The slag glass windows have had a few repairs over the years…
More colorful designs cap the outer-most pilasters which flank small balconies.
The angular patterning of the iron balustrade — and the stepped balcony below it — both scream “Art Deco”.
Iron lamps flanking each entry convey a more traditional tone.
An original illuminated exterior sign is typical of many found on older Masonic buildings.
This semi-spherical lump of terra cotta has a mate nearby; the two flank what was originally a garage door opening in the facade. Does anyone know the proper name for these? They were more typically made of iron.
A peek through the glass reveals a well-preserved Art Deco lobby. An ornamental ceiling retains its original light fixtures. Stepped wall niches frame Art Deco wall sconces. I’d love to see what kind of floor treatment is under that carpet!
Bronze plaque at entry.
Following are two more Art Deco buildings designed by S. S. Voigt:
The Anthony Theater in Anthony, Kansas, was built in 1936. It was recently renovated and reopened in 2017. Image courtesy of Google Street View.
The Hotel Roberts in Pratt, Kansas, was built in 1930. Later renamed the Parrish Hotel, it has recently been renovated and converted to “loft” apartments. Image courtesy of Google Street View.