ADDENDUM TO MASONIC HALL. (Philip Coons Building) (Richards Building) (Building 44). HABS No. WV-279, Summer 1995

From West Virginia GeoExplorer Project
Jump to: navigation, search
Call Number: HABS WVA,19-HARF,36- by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Bibliography
Title

ADDENDUM TO MASONIC HALL. (Philip Coons Building) (Richards Building) (Building 44). HABS No. WV-279, Summer 1995

Article

Call Number: HABS WVA,19-HARF,36-

Author

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Date

06/01/1995

Medium

Papers

Publisher
Harpers Ferry, WV 6/1/1995
Found Location

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

Geertsema Number

HF605

Topics Architecture,Fraternal
Source

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey

Media

View PDF

Caption

ADDENDUM TO MASONIC HALL. (Philip Coons Building) (Richards Building) (Building 44). HABS No. WV-279, Summer 1995


ADDENDUM TO MASONIC HALL. (Philip Coons Building) (Richards Building) (Building 44). HABS No. WV-279, Summer 1995 </p>

Masonic Hall HABS No. WV-279

(Richards Building)

Shendoah Street

Harpers Ferry

Jefferson County

West Virginia

PHOTOGRAPHS
Historic American Buildings Survey
National Park Service
Department of Interior
Washington, D.C. 20013-7127


ADDENDUM TO

MASONIC HALL HABS No. WV-279

(Philip Coons Building)

(Richards Building)

(Building 44)

Shenandoah Street

Harper's Ferry National Historical Park

Jefferson County

West Virginia

WRITTEN HISTORICAL & DESCRIPTIVE DATA
REDUCED COPIES OF MEASURED DRAWINGS
PHOTOGRAPHS
HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY
National Park Service
U.S. Department of Interior
P.O. Box 37127
Washington D.C. 20013-7127

HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY
MASONIC HALL
(Philip Coons Building)(William Richards Building) (Building 44) HABS No. WV-279

Location: Northwest side of Shenandoah Street, southwest of intersection with Market Street, Lower Town, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Universal Transverse Mercator Coordinates: latitude 39° 19' 9", longitude 77° 43' 52"

Present Owner: National Park Service

Occupant: (Harpers Ferry National Historical Park)

Present Use: Restroom facilities, housing for mechanical systems, exhibition display windows on first floor

Significance: Like many early nineteenth-century structures in Harpers Ferry, the Masonic Hall Building was originally conceived by Philip Coons to house commercial stores on the first floor with dwelling quarters above. However, the Masonic Hall Building varies somewhat from this pattern. The first assembly hall of Charity Lodge #111, one of the earlier Masonic Lodges in the area which would become West Virginia, was destroyed in a fire in January 1845 . Shortly thereafter, Coons, who was a member of Charity Lodge #111, agreed to allow the Masons to construct a new lodge room on the third floor of the building he had begun erecting the previous year. The third-floor assembly hall was most likely completed by the time of the Masons' first meeting there on November 22, 1845. Although the first two stories generally followed local building conventions, the third floor and roof constructions are unique among the town's surviving buildings. An elliptical vaulted ceiling was suspended from an elaborate king-post roof to create a large, virtually uninterrupted meeting room. The vaulted ceiling is particularly distinctive as it was constructed with salvaged timbers from "gundalows" which ran freight down the Shenandoah River. The third floor continued to function as the Masonic Hall for over a century until the building was deeded to the State of West Virginia in 1952 .



MASONIC HALL BUILDING

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 2)

PARTI. HISTORICAL INFORMATION

A. Physical History:

1. Date of erection: 1844-1845 . In June 1836 , James Duncanson and Philip Coons purchased Wager Lot 46 at the public sale of James B. Wager's land. This lot had formerly been part of the Wager Reservation, six acres of land in Harpers Ferry's Lower Town retained by John Wager, Sr., from the sale of land to the U.S. government in 1796 for the erection of the Armory. The lot was described in an advertisement in the Virginia Free Press on March 24, 1836 as a vacant lot fronting 38.5 feet along the north side of Shenandoah Street and extending back 70 feet. There may have been an earlier structure constructed on this lot by Coons and Duncanson. However, on November 12, 1842 Philip Coons bought Duncanson's half of the lot for $100 which, as historians Patricia Chickering and Michael A. Jenkins have argued, suggests that no structure existed on the property at the time of this sale.

The first two stories of the building were erected by Philip Coons, and the third floor was constructed by the local Masons of Charity Lodge #111. The Masons' former meeting hall on the third floor of the Episcopal Church was destroyed by a fire on January 7, 1845 . Coons himself was a member of Charity Lodge #111. After the fire he offered the Masons the opportunity to construct an assembly hall on the third floor of the structure he waserecting. Former Park Architect Archie Franzen established the date of construction as 1844-1845 following two key pieces of evidence. First of all, since the Masonic Hall Building uses the southwest wall of the McCabe-Marmion Building as its northeast enclosure, it had to be erected at the same time as or after this neighboring structure. Completion of the latter was first announced by an advertisement in the Virginia Free Press on December 1845 for a clothing store in Dr. Marmion's "new House" on Shenandoah Street. Therefore, the McCabe-Marmion Building must have been erected concurrently with the Masonic Hall Building in 1844-45 . Secondly, minutes from meetings of the Masonic Charity Lodge #111 indicate that the construction of the third floor which was to house their meeting hall began in early 1845 . The Masonic Hall must have been completed by the time of their first meeting in the new hall on November 22, 1845 , according to the minutes of Charity Lodge #111 cited in Franzen's report. It is, however, possible that construction and decoration of the lodge room was not fully completed until it was dedicated on June 24, 1846 .

2. Architect: Not known.

3. Original and subsequent owners, occupants, uses: The Masonic Hall Building was originally designed to house two stores on the first floor with the second floor serving as a residence. Philip Coons rented the first floor stores and second floor apartment to a variety of merchants during the ten years that he owned the building. A third floor was also built to house the Mason's lodge room, although it may not have been part of the original plan of construction. Although the third floor was also originally owned by Philip and Anne C. Coons, the Masons occupied it from the time of its construction in 1845. It was not until November 1852 that a deed legally granted the trustees of Charity Lodge #111 the right to "build as a meeting place or lodge of the said Fraternity an addition or third story upon the stone house built by the said Coons on the West side of Shenandoah Street in said town Lot



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 3)

No. 46" (JCC Deed Book 33, p. 43).

Only a few clues have been unearthed to identity tenants of the first two floors of the Masonic Hall Building during Coons's tenure. In November 1847 , Coons placed an advertisement in the Spirit of Jefferson offering the Masonic Hall Building (minus the third floor Masonic Lodge) for sale. At that time, Coons noted that a saddle manufactory and a clothing store occupied the first-floor store rooms, and the upper floors contained a dwelling and the Masonic Hall. In spite of this ad, Coons did not sell the building until 1855 .

The Virginia Free Press ran an advertisement in April 1848 in which D. Conrad announced the opening of a new store "In the room recently occupied by the Jews, under the Masonic Hall" on Shenandoah Street. Chickering and Jenkins have suggested that D. Conrad may have had some connection to F. J. Conrad who advertised in March 1848 that he was selling fresh fish in a store located on Shenandoah Street across from the public Market House. This description could refer to either the Masonic Hall Building or the McCabe-Marmion Building. However, the 1860 census lists a David Conrad (68) living in the eleven-person household of Fayette J. Conrad (35), thus suggesting a possible connection between the two Conrads. Chickering and Jenkins discuss a reference to a Thomas Russell whom Philip Coons mentioned as an occupant in his notice of sale for the Masonic Building in the March 9, 1854 issue of the Virginia Free Press. It is not clear if he occupied the dwelling or one of the stores. In any case, the first two floors of the building presumably continued to house two stores and a dwelling during its early years.

In July 1855 Philip and Anne C. Coons sold the first two floors of the building to William Richards, who was listed as an armorer on the 1850 Census (Seventh Census, 1850 , p. 403B of Harpers Ferry). As the deed clarified, the third floor remained the property of the Masons: "there is excepted from this sale and conveyance, so much of the third story of the building erected on said lot as in now owned, used and occupied by the order of Free and accepted masons, to whom the same belongs by virtue of an agreement made heretofore by the said masons and the said Coons, therefore as well for a pass way to and from the said third story on the South Side of Said lot" (JCC, Deed Book 35, p. 9-10). That same year Richards had purchased a two story building containing store space and dwelling on Wager Lot 49 on the north side of Shenandoah Street, three lots east of the Masonic Hall Building.

It was during Richard's tenure that advertisements for a bakery in the Masonic Hall Building first appeared in 1859 and 1860 . Former Park Historian Charles Snell advanced the hypothesis that John N. Stonebraker, who was listed on the 1860 Census as a confectioner, occupied both the second-floor dwelling and the southwest store, including the one-story stone room which had been added at the rear of the Masonic Hall Building. Architectural drawings of the building by Ray R. Mehl which were completed on July 25, 1962 indicate a small iron oven frame existed in the back wall of the southwest room. To the right of the iron frame but at the same level was an iron lintel; the opening underneath it had been filled with bricks. To the left of these two elements was a door opening which had been filled with concrete. A rear addition extended back behind this wall with the remains of two stone walls approximately 11 feet apart laid up between the rear facade of the building and the rock hillside behind it. The blocked door opening must have opened onto this addition. In the



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 4)

room formed by this addition, the remains of a low stone foundation were noted in Snell and Franzen's reports and depicted in Mehl's drawing. This stone foundation may be the remains of an oven enclosure which was constructed in the rear addition. Although the actual structural evidence was covered up or removed during the Park Service renovation of the building in the early 1960s , Mehl's drawings further corroborate references to a bakery in the Masonic Hall Building noted by Chickering and Jenkins.

Like most other buildings in Harpers Ferry, the Masonic Hall Building was occupied by troops during the Civil War. Mehl's drawings note the location of graffiti which may date from this period on the northeast interior wall on the second floor. Following Treasury Department records for "Captured and Abandoned" property from February 1864 through July 1865 cited by Chickering and Jenkins, troops occupied the second and third floors at least until May 1864 when Charles H. Trail was repairing "the upper part." Trail and Truman W. Potterfield occupied rooms in the building until March 1865 when Potterfield was replaced by the merchants Leisenring and Son. The two first-floor rooms were occupied by Trail and Leisenring through at least July 1865. Gidion and George W. Leisenring conveyed the goods and property of their partnership, including the store warehouse in the Masonic Hall Building to Benjamin F. Leisenring and William H. Travers in 1867 .

B. F. Leisenring was still in business on March 16, 1872 when William Richards advertised the sale of two of his properties in the Virginia Free Press. The notice included a description of the Masonic Hall Building: "House No. 1, is the long and well-established Business House on the West Side of Shenandoah Street, 38 feet front, having a large and convenient Store Room, and occupied by Mr. B. F. Leisenring, Merchant, who is now doing a splendid business, the stand being one of the best in the town for town and country trade. Above the store is a convenient DWELLING with Five Rooms, also a Back Building with Three Rooms, all in good order, and the Third Story owned and occupied by the Masonic Lodge, all of easy access. The Store, Warehouse, and Dwelling is under rent at $258 and is considered a low rent. The building is of Stone masonry, substantially built." As Chickering and Jenkins have noted, this ad seems to suggest that the Leisenring firm occupied both rooms on the ground floor. Whether Leisenring remained in the building after it was sold is unknown. In any case, the firm filed for bankruptcy in September 1872 , as reported in the Virginia Free Press.

Richards sold the Masonic Hall Building the following month to Murtha Walsh, a local merchant (JCC, Deed Book 7, p. 198). Walsh was one of many Irish immigrants and Irish-Americans who were a notable presence in the Harpers Ferry business community after the Civil War, as Mary Johnson has discussed in her report on Blocks A and B of Shenandoah Street. Beginning in 1854 Walsh ran a dry goods and grocery business, Walsh & Brother, on the Ferry lot which had formerly been occupied by his uncles Richard and Michael Doran. The business moved in the 1880s after Murtha Walsh constructed a store and residence at the east end of Shenandoah Street (Block A, Lot 6). Under Walsh's ownership, the Masonic Hall Building continued to house ground-level stores and an apartment above. The building remained the property of the Walsh family until it was deeded to the State of West Virginia.

Until the 1910s , only a few clues have been unearthed to determine the building's tenants, as noted in Chickering and Jenkins' report. A sign reading "J. F. Cassell Bro. ... Roofing



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 5)

Stoves" hangs outside the Masonic Hall Building in a photograph of Shenandoah Street taken in the 1890s (HF-446), and seems to refer to J. F. Cassell, a plumber and metalwork dealer. Frye & Koontz ran a butcher shop in the northeast store around 1910 , but moved to the adjacent McCabe-Marmion Building by 1916-17 . C. M. "Buck" Larue moved his shoe repair business between the Masonic Hall Building and a building on the same block of Shenandoah Street (Block C, Lot 1) in 1916 and 1917 . In the second year, Larue finally settled in the Masonic Hall Building with his business in the southwest room. "Chubby" Harroll ran a clock and watch repair shop in the northwest store of the building until he moved to the McCabe-Marmion Building in April 1918 . Two months later, "Buck" Larue opened a delicatessen in the northwest store which featured evening music entertainment in the early 1920s when the grocery/delicatessen had expanded into both first-floor rooms. During Larue's affiliation with the Masonic Hall Building, he and his family lived in the second floor apartment from 1917 until March 1923 . In February of the following year, Frank Drew and his sister Virginia Lee Drew moved into the Larue's former residence. Although Frank died in November, Virginia lived on the second floor until her death in a fire in March 1931.

The third-floor assembly room in the Masonic Hall Building continued to be used by local Masonic lodges from the first meeting on November 22, 1845 until it was deeded to the State of West Virginia on November 24, 1952 (JCC Deed Book 191, p. 4). As reported in an article in the Spirit of Jefferson on October 25, 1951 , Masonic records indicate that from the building's erection until its transfer to the State of West Virginia, meetings in the Masonic Hall ceased only during the Civil War, between 1861 and 1865 . However, during the Masons' tenure in the Masonic Hall Building, Charity Lodge #111 was succeeded by two different Masonic lodges, Eureka Lodge #25 and Logan Lodge #25.

Oliver V. Haefer and other trustees of Logan Lodge #25 along with the Walsh heirs granted the Masonic Hall Building to the State of West Virginia in December and November 1952 , respectively (JCC Deed Book 191, p. 45; Deed Book 190, p. 287). Logan Lodge #25 of the Masonic Order likewise agreed to quit-claim their right to the use of the third floor, alley, and exterior staircase to the State of West Virginia. On December 9 of the following year, it was deeded by the State of West Virginia to the United States to form part of the Harpers Ferry National Monument, The Masonic Hall Building underwent exterior and structural rehabilitation in 1956 and a program of renovation in the early 1960s. In 1963-64, restrooms were installed in the ground floor for use by park visitors. Currently, the Masonic Hall Building continues to house restroom facilities, mechanical systems used both within the building and by the neighboring John G. Wilson and McCabe-Marmion buildings, and storefront window display space.

4. Builder, suppliers: The builder of the Masonic Hall Building is unknown, although it is possible that Philip Coons himself played this role. As the rocky hillside at the north end of the lot restricted available area for construction, extensive blasting of this rock was necessary in order to build the Masonic Hall Building. As in other buildings below the hill along this stretch of Shenandoah Street, rock excavated from the hillside was used in the structure's walls. The minutes of Charity Lodge #11 Ts meeting on March 22, 1845 mention that Philip Coons had purchased brick, iron, and lumber salvaged from the burnt remains of the Episcopal Church which had housed the Masonic Hall until it was destroyed in a fire earlier



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 6)

that year. These materials may have been used in the construction of the new assembly hall on the top floor of Coons's building, including the brick rear wall above the third floor level. The elliptical vaulted ceiling suspended from the king-post roof was constructed with wood from gundalows, long, flat-bottomed boats which ran supplies down the Shenandoah River. These boats were disassembled at the end of their run and sold for lumber.

5. Original plans and construction: The Masonic Hall Building was a three-story rubble masonry structure with a gable roof covered with slate and no basement. Its northeast wall was formed by the gable wall of the adjacent McCabe-Marmion Building. The building wasdivided into two rooms on the first floor which housed commercial businesses. The second floor was originally divided into four or five rooms by narrow partition walls. The earliest useful description of the building that has been found is the notice for sale of the Masonic Hall Building posted by Philip Coons in the Virginia Free Press in March 1854 . This ad indicates that the second floor was divided into five rooms, which may have been the original floor plan. In effect, the Masonic Hall Building merged two different sections, Coons's firsttwo floors and the Masons' assembly hall on the third floor. However, Coons seems to have been involved in both phases of the construction, as indicated by his purchase of building materials for the third floor. At least the exterior walls of the first two stories were completed by early 1845 when construction of the third floor began. The Masonic Hall on the third floor contained a large room which probably spanned the entire floor space, although it currently has two small rooms on the southwest end and a small loft above.

6. Alterations and additions: Although the third floor seems to have largely retained its original, or at least early floor plan and fenestration, the lower two floors of the Masonic Hall Building have undergone extensive alterations. On the first and second stories, floor plans, fenestration and door openings had been changed numerous times. Many of these alterations are difficult to document, particularly after the National Park Service effectively erased important architectural evidence in the 1960s in the course of installing restrooms and mechanical systems in the lower floors.

An addition at the rear of the Masonic Halt Building was presumably completed by 1859 . Two stone walls approximately eleven feet apart were laid up on the western half of the rear facade. They extended from the rear facade to the rock hillside behind, forming a small room which measured approximately 11 3/4' x 1214'. When examined in 1962 , the addition contained the remains of a low stone foundation which may have served a bakery oven used by John Stonebraker. Architectural drawings of the building completed by Ray R. Mehl on July 25, 1962 indicate that a small iron oven frame and iron lintel above a bricked-up opening existed in the back wall of the southwest room. A door opening also existed on this wall. Although it had been filled with concrete, it formerly opened onto the addition. Given the fact that William Richards began placing advertisements for a bakery in his building in 1859 , this addition must have been completed by then.

It is possible that this addition was the "Back Building with Three Rooms" to which Richards referred in the notice for the sale of his properties in March 1872 . It seems unlikely that Richards was referring to a different structure altogether - whose traces have been lost - given the extremely limited space between the rear of the building and the rocky hillside. The



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 7)

designation of three rooms in the "Back Building" remains somewhat confusing. There are at least three different possible answers to this quandary, although all remain speculative hypotheses. Was the designation of three rooms a misnomer? Or, was the rear addition a two-story structure in 1872 which was divided into three rooms. Finally, is it possible that the two rooms had been partitioned off in the rear of the ground-floor stores to form three additional rooms associated with the bakery and/or used for storage? Charles Snell had suggested in his 1973 report on commercial buildings in Harpers Ferry that each store had been divided into two rooms, front and back, in 1854, although he offered no explanation for this claim.

Snell further suggested that it was at this date that an eight-inch thick brick cross wall was constructed between the two ground floor stores, but gave no justification for this specific date. Clearly, the brick cross wall which still existed at the time of Mehl's architectural drawings of the building in 1962 was a later addition. If B. F. Leisenring's dry goods store did occupy the entire ground floor by March 1872 when Richards offered the building for sale, it is possible that the original stone wall dividing the first floor into two rooms was removed and later rebuilt with bricks instead of stone.

Changes in fenestration and door openings which may not be dated precisely include the addition of a third door near the middle of the storefront and the boarding up of a window next to it. On the second floor, the first window to the right on the northwest facade was filled with cement block at some point prior to the building's transfer to the National Park Service. A door just to the left of this window was also a later addition to this facade. This opening was preserved by the Park Service renovation in 1962 as a means of accessing the porch over the rear addition. A second door opened onto this facade to the left of the first, although this may date from an earlier period since it was surmounted by a rectangular transom with four lights, like all of the original doors. Although the partitions on the second floor had been changed several times prior to the Park Service's alteration in the early 1960s, shadows of earlier partitions documented in Mehl's drawings and Franzen's report indicate that 1" thick, wood-paneled partitions were consistently used on the second floor. The partition walls were tongued and grooved and secured at the ceiling and floor by small chamfered wood strips. None of these are extant.

The third floor lodge room may have also been altered somewhat. William E. Trout's report on the gundalow wood used in the vaulted ceiling of the Masonic Hall advances the hypothesis that this vault was not part of the original construction. Given the incredibly fine craftsmanship used in the king-post roof, this is a definite possibility. However, it is likely that the vaulted ceiling was added before the Civil War since gundalow traffic down the Shenandoah River to Harpers Ferry was heaviest during this time period. If the vaulted ceiling was not constructed in 1845, it was presumably added not long thereafter.

If the thin, wood-paneled partition walls near the southwest wall on the third floor were not part of the original construction, the vestibule, cloak room, and loft at the southwest end of the third floor may have been added soon after 1845 . The original fireplace in the chimney on the southwest exterior wall would have been blocked by this wall, so these rooms were presumably added after this fireplace was no longer used to heat the third floor. According to



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 8)

Franzen's report, all three fireplaces (one on each floor on the southwest wall) in the Masonic Hall Building were closed at an early date and replaced with stoves. Franzen further noted that the minutes of Charity Lodge #111 from November 22, 1845 called for the purchase of a stove. The stove was installed on the northwest wall of their meeting room, after a window was filled in with bricks to create a short chimney flue. Mehl's architectural drawings of 1962 indicate that the original fireplace in the southwest wall had received little use, so the stove may have been installed and the partition walls erected at a very early date. Storage rooms and a vestibule with two symmetrically placed doors leading from this area to the main room were typical features of Masonic Halls at least by the mid-nineteenth century. This fact further suggests that if the partition walls were not original, they must have been constructed soon thereafter. The arrangement of the king-posts, however, does not necessarily support this theory. There are only five king-posts, and they do not extend into the area partitioned off at the southwest end of the third floor.

According to an article in the Virginia Free Press on March 8, 1873 , Congress appropriated $767.39 that month for Harpers Ferry AF & AM Charity Lodge to cover the cost of refitting the lodge room to repair damage caused by the building's occupation by U.S. troops from 1861 to 1864 . The bill had been sponsored by Senator H. G. Davis of West Virginia. It is possible that the 1877 repairs to the Masonic Hall that Franzen mentioned in his report may have been the result of this appropriation. Although Franzen noted that a complete inventory of the materials used in these repairs were included in the Lodge's minutes, his report is frustrating in that he does not give any indication as to the materials included in that list. Without this list of materials, it is difficult to determine if these repairs included structural alterations.

The Masonic Hall Building, like many other buildings which became part of the Harpers Ferry National Monument in the early 1950s , first underwent a program of shoring-up and reroofing in 1956 . The initial stage of this program included replacing the slate roof with sheathing and roll roofing, shoring up the structural supports while the roof was reworked, repairing the rafters and trusses, bracing the exterior staircase and renewing its treads and risers, and installing gutters and downspouts. This phase of work attempted to arrest the building's extreme deterioration and structural instability. The elliptical plaster ceiling on the third floor was removed in September 1956 to facilitate work on the trusses and rafters. The chord members and joints of the trusses were tightened and two trusses, along with the top chord of the truss, were replaced. In September 1960 , a proposal to stabilize the building recommended the following work: repairing and rebuilding the stone masonry lintels over the window and door openings in the north and south walls, tying the south walls with steel rods, and removing a bulge in the masonry of the front facade.

At the beginning of the following year, a restoration program was proposed which included completing the stabilization of the stone masonry, the interior, the exterior, and its features; plastering over the interior wood frame and repairing the framing; installing a slate roof; repairing the wood trim and floors; painting; and adding electricity, heating and plumbing. Stabilization of the Masonic Hall Building's masonry walls was completed by August 16, 1961 . In July 1963 , the installation of restrooms and mechanical systems (plumbing, heating, air conditioning) began. The replacement of the temporary roof covering with an historically



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 9)

accurate slate roof was completed on December 19, 1963 . By the end of June 1964 , the entire interior renovation and exterior restoration project for the Masonic Hall Building was complete, including lathing and plastering and the installation of restroom facilities. While the work on the exterior focused on alterations which simulated its original appearance as conceived at that time, the interior of the structure was drastically changed. The third floor remains largely intact, aside from the removal of its plaster ceiling and much of its original wall finishing. However, the floor plans and materials on the first two floors were radically altered to accommodate restroom facilities and mechanical systems. In the spring of 1984 , the old terrazzo floors on the first floor hallways and restrooms were replaced with new ones. The exterior has heen painted several times since the building was acquired by the National Park Service, most recently in August 1986 .

B. Historical Context:

1. Masonic Lodges in Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry has been marked by successive periods of relative prosperity and economic growth followed by outright destruction and economic decline. Perhaps the most devastating event which marked a change in Harpers Ferry's fortunes was the Civil War. The war not only caused massive physical damage to both the town's buildings and inhabitants, but also effectively destroyed the town's economic base, the national armory and arsenal. The town was also adversely affected by natural causes of destruction, particularly the frequent floods which on several occasions destroyed bridges and other crucial transportation links to the town. Finally, the advent of the automobile diminished Harpers Ferry's prominence as a destination of railroad excursions and retreat for summer tourists until parts of it were designated a National Monument in 1944 . Given the tumultuous history of the town, the fact that Masonic lodges met for over a century in the same building is remarkable. Although many of its neighboring buildings on Shenandoah Street may claim such long term consistency as commercial buildings, the Masonic Hall is unusual as it retained virtually the same tenant and function with few architectural alterations to its third-floor assembly hall.

Freemasonry, a fraternal order whose origins may be traced back to sixteenth-century Britain, was first imported to the North American colonies in the early eighteenth century. In 1733 Philadelphia became the site of the first Masonic lodge formed in what would become the United States. Early Freemasonry drew on imagined traditions and values of craft labor and its attendant institution of the guild to create a social and convivial brotherhood. As Mary Ann Clawson and other scholars have observed, Freemasonry became a means of constructing a symbolic continuity between traditional artisanal economies and the emerging capitalist system. Through the extensive use of ritual and secrecy, the Masons distinguished themselves as an early voluntary organization which would later influence numerous such associations formed during the heyday of American fraternalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The first Masonic lodge in Harpers Ferry, Charity Lodge #111 of Free and Accepted Masons, was granted its charter by the Grand Lodge of Virginia in Richmond on December 15, 1818 . However, it was not until 1848 that the Virginia Legislature passed a bill incorporating the



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 10)

Masonic Fraternity of Charity Lodge #111 at Harpers Ferry. The location of the lodge's earliest meetings is unclear, but in September 1827 Charity Lodge #111 dedicated their new Masonic Hall on the third floor of the Free Church in Harpers Ferry which had been constructed on government land that year.

In theory, Freemasonry was dedicated to the principle of equality, at least across lines of class difference. The Masonic lodge was to be a place where laborer and owner, artisan and professional could meet on common ground. Accordingly, the brotherhood was open to all freeborn, white men who believed in God and lived a moral life. However, men who met those broad qualifications needed several Masons to endorse their application for membership. Endorsed candidates were then subject to a committee inquiry to investigate the petitioner's family life and business reputation. The committee's findings were then presented to the lodge before being put to a vote by secret ballot. In spite of this allowance for some degree of heterogeneity, the Masons were largely white, Protestant, middle-class organizations.

In spite of the egalitarian symbolism of freemasonry, early Masonic activity in Harpers Ferry was conditioned to some extent by existing relations among the small property-owning elite. At least until the iate-1820s , Harpers Ferry was dominated by a small coterie of families who controlled the town's major resources: land, the armory, commercial enterprises, and political power. At this time, the government had a virtual monopoly on employment and land in the town with the majority of Harpers Ferry's inhabitants either working in the armory itself, the few other existing factories, or in commercial businesses supporting those industries. Until the mid-1830s , the Wager family also controlled a virtual monopoly over commercial enterprise in the town. According to stipulations attached to the government's purchase of Wager land for construction of the armory in 1796 , the Wager family withheld 6 3/4 acres of land including prime commercial areas of the town through which they were able to control ownership of the majority of local retail enterprises. This small group of Harpers Ferry's elite, including the Stubblefield, Stephenson, Beckham, and Wager families, figures prominently in newspaper accounts of the lodge's activities during this period.

During his tenure as superintendent at the armory in Harpers Ferry (1807 -29 ), James Stubblefield earned a reputation among his detractors for channeling contracts for materials through his local allies. Accusations charging Stubblefield with having used his position of authority for his own economic gain and that of selected associates were brought to a hearing on two separate occasions, in 1827 and 1829 . Although criminal charges against Stubblefield were never substantiated, in part because the documentation he provided was so muddled, he was forced to resign following the second hearing in May 1829 .

Major James Stephenson was among the recipients of Stubblefield's beneficence, at least according to armory worker Nahum W. Patch's accusation that Stubblefield repeatedly delivered firewood from the armory to Stephenson without charging him for either wood or for its delivery. Stubblefield had good reason to remain in Stephenson's favor given theMajor's well-established political connections. After settling in Berkeley County, Stephenson spent six years as a magistrate, became a delegate to the Virginia Assembly (1800 -02 ), and served several sessions in the House of Representatives (1803-05 , 1809-11 , 1822-25 ).



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 11)

The political link between Stubblefield and Stephenson was further underlined by familial relationships, which can be traced through the figure of Fontaine Beckham. James Stubblefield's wife was Fontaine Beckham's sister, while Beckham himself had married Ann A. Stephenson, the daughter of Major James Stephenson, in 1825. According to Merritt Roe Smith, Fontaine Beckham was the most prosperous of the four Beckham brothers. In 1824 he purchased six acres in the upper western end of Virginius Island which included a grist mill and cooper's shop from Stubblefield. He further benefitted from his relationship with Stubblefield by speculating with Edward Wager on reimbursement claims by armory workers for repairs they had made to their government-owned dwellings, the only charge which was upheld at the second hearing against Stubblefield in 1829 .

James B. Wager seems to have been most active representative of the powerful Wager family in Charity Lodge #111. James B. Wager was a heir of Robert Harper and the grandson of John Wager, Sr., who had sold 118 1/4 acres to the government in 1796 for the erection of the national armory and arsenal in Harpers Ferry. The Wagers had retained six acres along Shenandoah and High streets, known as the Wager Reservation, and 3/4 acres near the ferry landing, called the Ferry Lot. After James B. Wager was declared bankrupt in 1836, the Wager Reservation was distributed among the existing heirs, and James B. Wager's portion was offered for public sale on June 18, 1836. However, at least up until this point, James B. Wager held a position of prominence by virtue of his familial status, as the Wager family held a virtual monopoly over privately-owned land and commercial enterprise in Harpers Ferry.

Stubblefield, Stephenson, Beckham, and Wager were members of Charity Lodge #111 during its early years. Stubblefield and Beckham served together on the committee of arrangement for the dedication of the Masonic Hall in the Free Church in 1827 . Beckham also helped organize the anniversary celebration for St. John the Baptist three years later. The 1834 Independence Day celebration sponsored by Charity Lodge #111 four years later featured a procession which would begin from "Beckham's Hotel." James B. Wager not only served on the committee of arrangement for the celebration, but also had the honor of being the Marshall of the procession. That same month F. Beckham advertised the opening of the "HARPERS FERRY HOTEL and Mail Stage Office" which he was running with his mother-in- law Ann C. Stephenson. "Beckham's Hotel" most likely referred to the Harpers Ferry Hotel which was located on the northeast corner of High and Shenandoah streets, the site of Major Stephenson's former tavern. Major Stephenson had died the previous year; as member of Charity Lodge #111, he had been buried with Masonic honors.

Given the highly visible presence of such influential citizens of Harpers Ferry at most of the Mason's public events, Charity Lodge #111 functioned in part as a fraternal forum, cementing an existing social network through which mutually beneficial political, social, and business relationships might be enacted. The frequent public ceremonies staged by Charity Lodge #111 became, in part, a means of staging and celebrating this existing social hierarchy and the system of privilege through which it was supported.

Nonetheless, Charity Lodge #111, like most other Masonic lodges, should not be understood as a purely elitist association. As a charitable organization, the Masons did perform valuable community services. One of the most essential functions of the lodge was to act as a mutual



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 12)

benefit society. Annual dues to the lodge functioned as a form of insurance for all members. When a Mason died, not only would he be buried with Masonic honors in a ceremony paid for by the lodge, but his survivors would continue to be provided for if they were in need of financial support. Undoubtedly it was this fact which would have been particularly important and beneficial to the numerous Armory workers who did not number among the elite of Harpers Ferry, but may have nonetheless belonged to Charity Lodge #111. An accurate profile of the lodge's membership is difficult to trace without access to the private records of Charity Lodge #111. Although only a limited number of Masons held elected positions or served on committees of arrangement for various public ceremonies, these members received the most notice in local newspaper accounts of the lodge's activities. Without additional information, it is impossible to definitively trace and assess social networks and relations within Charity Lodge #111.

On January 7, 1845 , a fire destroyed the Free Church, including the upper story where the Masonic Hall had been located. According to a report on the fire in the Spirit of Jefferson, "The whole of the contents of the building were lost, which is of considerable loss to the Masons. — All of the Regalia, and fixtures of the lodge, were totally destroyed." Damage to the Masonic Hall was estimated at $5000. By the end of that month, work on the new Methodist Protestant Church, for which Charity Lodge #111 had laid the cornerstone on November 11, 1843 , was almost complete. The local chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was to occupy the upper story of the church, and offered Charity Lodge #111 the use of its meeting hall.

At the time that the Free Church was destroyed by fire, Philip Coons was in the midst of constructing a store house and dwelling on Shenandoah Street adjacent to the McCabe-Marmion Building. Coons had long been an active member of Charity Lodge #111, serving on early committees of arrangement for the dedication of the Masonic Hall in the Free Church in 1827 and the anniversary of St. John the Baptist three years later. In 1825 Coons erected a stone building which was used as a boarding house for armory workers. Although he never received the authorization from the Ordnance Department theoretically required to build on government land, Stubblefield must have given him unofficial permission for this structure. Coons supported Stubblefield in both investigations of the Superintendent's directorship, perhaps in part as a means of protecting his own interests as Coons also had a contract with the armory to deliver charcoal and wood. Due in part to the profits gained from these ventures which Stubblefield had facilitated, Coons was able to purchase a lot at the sale of James B. Wager's property in 1836 on which the Masonic Hall Building was later erected. Coons thus became one of a growing number of local merchants and property owners who directly benefited from the collapse of the Wager monopoly and the subsequent expansion of an entrepreneurial class in Harpers Ferry.

When the Masonic Hall was destroyed in 1845 , Coons offered Charity Lodge #111 the opportunity to build a new assembly hall on the third floor of the building he was erecting. The new Masonic Hall was dedicated on June 24, 1846 . A procession led through Lower Town and culminated with the dedication of the new building according to Masonic rites. A stone tablet, inscribed with this date and mounted in one of the third-floor window openings, served as a permanent document of this event. Perhaps not surprisingly, Philip Coons was on



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 13)

the committee of arrangement for the ceremonies.

The meeting room erected in the top story of Coons's building includes several features common to Masonic halls. As William D. Moore has noted in his article on Masonic halls, the lodge room was the place in which the abstract idea of Masonic fraternity took physical shape through rituals performed within a particularized architectural space. As such, it was the concrete site in which a lodge defined itself. Most early Masonic lodge rooms occupied one or two floors in multiple-use structures. Coons's building followed this pattern, with the Masonic Hall constructed on the third floor, above two floors which contained dwelling and commercial space. Although it was constructed many years later and dedicated in 1876, the Masonic Hall in Charlestown, MA demonstrates the persistence of this formula; the bottom two floors of the building contained a bank with the upper two floors housing rooms used by the local Masonic lodge. As Moore has observed, "the Masonics built temples in business districts and found nothing sacrilegious about worshipping at an altar under the same roof as a bank or a store" (35). Of course, in Harpers Ferry such an arrangement resulted in part from the restricted amount of land available for building undertaken by private individuals. Nonetheless, the Masonic Hall Building architecturally embodies the important underlying alliance between Freemasonry and capitalist enterprise.

The expression of Freemasonry on the exterior of the building was fairly restrained, perhaps due to its relatively early construction and the fact that it was erected by necessity following the fire in the earlier hall instead of as an elective building program initiated by the lodge. Throughout the long history of the Masonic Hall's use, the stone tablet in the third-floor window facing Shenandoah Street was the only overt mark of the institution it housed. Like most other Masonic Halls, the one built for Charity Lodge #111 was located above street level. The interior also conformed to the typical spatial arrangement of assembly halls. The meetings and associated rituals took place within a large, rectangular room whose shape was related to the Oblong Square, an important Masonic symbol derived from Biblical architecture. Although most lodge meeting rooms had high ceilings, the elliptical vaulted ceiling constructed of gundalow timber and suspended from an elaborately crafted king-post roof may be unique among Masonic lodge rooms.

Lodge rooms were always oriented following a system of axes. In the hall built for Charity Lodge #111, the central axis runs between the two gable walls, bounded at either end by raised platforms which have since been removed. The Lodge Master sat on an elaborate chair, which was framed by a pair of painted columns, on the platform against the northeast wall. According to Franzen's report, shadows on this wall indicate that actual columns may have once been placed in front of the painted ones. At the opposite end of the room, against the southwest wall formed by the wood-paneled partition wall, a second, smaller raised platform was located. The Senior Warden's seat was positioned on this platform, and likewise framed by two columns painted on the wall behind him. On either side of this platform were two symmetrically placed doors cut into the partition wall, another feature typical of Masonic meeting rooms. The Junior Warden would have been seated against the southeast wall to form one end of the second axis, perpendicular to the long axis between the two officials at the head of the Masonic hierarchy. The altar where membership initiations and other Masonic rites were performed would have been placed at the center of the room, at



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 14)

the point where these two axes crossed. The regular members of the fraternal order were generally seated on benches along the perimeter of the room, although traces of these and other original furnishings have been almost entirely removed.

The space of the Masonic Hall was structured by competing structures of hierarchy and equality. The three Masonic officers marked the axial orientation of the room while the members seated around the perimeter of the room spatially enacted the ideal of equality within the lodge. Both of these organizing structures, the intersecting axes and the outline of the perimeter, served to highlight the central altar as the most significant space of ritual and initiation within the lodge room. The two overlying systems of organization emphasized the lodge's function as a corporate group of individuals focused on the rites of membership. Although Moore has suggested that the organization of Masonic Halls created a hierarchy which was both visible and ascendable, it is likely, as evidence of the early years of Charity Lodge #111 suggests, that the Masons replicated, at least to some extent, the hierarchies already established in society outside of the sacred realm of the "Mason's Holy House."

Over the course of almost a century, Masonic meetings ceased only briefly during the Civil War, from 1861 to April 6, 1865. After the Civil War, Charity Lodge #111 resumed its meetings in the Masonic Hall Building, although repairs to the building were necessary because troops which had been stationed there had caused considerable damage. Since Charity Lodge #111 remained loyal to Virginia, a new lodge was established soon after the war. On November 11, 1868, a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (AF & AM) to Eureka Lodge #25 in Harpers Ferry. Given that many people had moved away from Harpers Ferry during the Civil War, it is likely that Eureka Lodge #25 had a somewhat different membership than Charity Lodge #111, but there may have been some continuity between old and new lodges. Although Eureka Lodge #25 lasted only three years, they held their meetings in the Masonic Hall Building. The Lodge Master was Benjamin F. Leisenring who owned a dry goods store in the ground floor of the Masonic Hall Building. Thus, Leisenring continued the tradition established by Philip Coons of a connection between the owner/occupant of the floors below and the Masonic Hall. Three years later, a second charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia to Logan Lodge #25, Ancient and Accepted Masons of Harpers Ferry on November 15, 1871 . The new lodge was named after the West Virginia Mason's Grand Master, Thomas H. Logan. The public installation of the new lodge was not held until fifteen years later on June 23, 1886 at the Methodist Protestant Church in Harpers Ferry. Until they constructed a new lodge room in the early 1950s, Logan Lodge #25 held their regular meetings in the Masonic Hal! Building.

In spite of these organizational changes, Eureka Lodge #25 and Logan Lodge #25 continued to hold their meetings in the Masonic Hall Building. By this time the social fabric of Harpers Ferry had changed considerably as had the membership of the Masonic lodge. The lodge continued to sponsor public ceremonies through which the Masons left their mark on the town. In the early decades after Logan Lodge #25 was granted its charter, the Masons sponsored annual picnics at Byrnes Island for Masonic lodges from around the surrounding area and even as far away as Baltimore and Washington, DC. This tradition continued at least into the 1880s when Masonic Day was instituted at Island Park, the resort and



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 15)

amusement park created on Byrnes Island by the B & O Railroad Company, These picnics, which drew as many as 7000 people in 1879 , bear witness to the increasing popularity of social fraternal organizations in late nineteenth-century America.

Although traditional social hierarchies were increasingly challenged in the late nineteenth century, the Masonic order held fast to their systems of beliefs and rituals. Racial exclusion continued to be a mainstay of American fraternalism and Freemasonry. During the Revolutionary War Prince Hall and fourteen other African-American residents of Boston had been elected Master Masons by a British lodge. Drawing on this precedent, the Prince Hall Masons became an active and growing African-American fraternal organization in the late nineteenth-century. In the early 1890s, local newspapers reported on the activities of one such organization, the so-called "colored" Masonic Grand Lodge of West Virginia. In 1893 the Grand Lodge met in Harpers Ferry (although not in the Masonic Hall Building), and three years later local resident H. H. Winters was reelected their Grand Master. However, the national governing body of Freemasons refused to formally recognize and incorporate African-American lodges throughout the nineteenth century.

The equality espoused by the Masons was in fact dependent on a principle of exclusion. Like many other nineteenth-century fraternal organizations, membership was restricted to freeborn, white males. As Mary Ann Clawson has convincingly argued, social fraternalism instituted a model of social relations organized around gender which emphasized and promulgated a particular ideology of masculinity. Clawson has suggested that the masculine identity championed by fraternalism is analogous to the ideology of femininity embodied in the contemporaneous cult of domesticity. Each constructed an ideal of gender relations emphasizing the restriction of middle-class, white men and women to distinct social roles and, to some extent, separate architectural spaces.

The Masonic Hall was an exclusively masculine space which ritually, organizationally, and spatially defined the bounds of male solidarity. The Masonic Hall Building in Harpers Ferry reinforces this paradigm even in its architecture. The exterior staircase which provides access to the meeting room separates the room from the ordinary pedestrian realm, a distinction which may have been further emphasized by the presence of the tyler, a man holding a sword who was generally seated in the vestibule of the lodge room to guard its entrance. The louvered shutters which covered all of the third-floor windows further allowed the men of the lodge to conduct their affairs behind literal shades of secrecy.

Architecture figured prominently in the legends and beliefs of Freemasonry. First of all, the Masons traced a symbolic connection between their brotherhood and traditional trade organizations of artisanal masons. To this end, much of the Constitution of the Free-Masons, the central document of early Masonic organizing in England, is a history of architecture, tracing a line of descent from God, the Universal Architect, to practicing stone masons. In nineteenth-century America, the importance of architecture to the fraternal order was evoked in the construction of increasingly elaborate Masonic Halls and Temples and the important Masonic rite of cornerstone-laying. The Masonic lodges in Harpers Ferry were therefore active in the architectural history of Harpers Ferry not only through the erection of their own Masonic Hall, but also through the numerous cornerstone-laying ceremonies they organized



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 16)

throughout their history. Many of the early cornerstone-laying ceremonies sponsored by Charity Lodge #111 involved churches and even corporate ventures such as the Shenandoah Manufacturing Company's factory building on Virginius Island. By the twentieth century, Logan Lodge #25 focused its cornerstone-laying activities on Masonic Halls and public buildings, including Harpers Ferry High School whose cornerstone was laid in 1930 .

In 1950 , Logan Lodge #25 purchased a lot along Washington Street formerly owned by the Trustees of St. John's Lutheran Church. Ground-breaking for a new lodge building took place in March 1951 and the cornerstone was laid by Grand Master Charles B. Ahrens of Wheeling on October 27, 1951 . The new Masonic building consisted of three floors: the basement was used as a recreation hall and for serving refreshments, the first floor as a store room, with the Masonic Lodge Room occupying the second floor. The dedication of the new building took place in 1952 , the same year the Logan Lodge #25 deeded their portion of the Masonic Hall Building to the State of West Virginia to become part of the Harpers Ferry National Monument. The Masonic tablet which had stood in one of the third floor windows on the front facade of the Masonic Hall Building was moved to a second floor window in the new building on Washington Street where it still stands.

The Masonic Hall Building is a testimony not only to the history of Freemasonry in Harpers Ferry, but was also an important institution throughout the town's evolution. The third-floor assembly room in the Masonic Hall Building was an important site of ritual and conviviality for generations of select male residents in Harpers Ferry. While it may be difficult to reconstruct the intricate patterns of social networks cemented in part through successive Masonic affiliations, their mark on the shape of Harpers Ferry has not been completely effaced. The visible architectural influence of Masonic lodges in Harpers Ferry extends from the remarkable design of the king-post roof and gundalow timbered ceiling which graced their lodge room to the public spaces adorned with cornerstones laid by Charity, Eureka, and Logan lodges in Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area.

2. Gundalow Traffic on the Shenandoah River

Although the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal on the Potomac River is often thought to have been the focus of river traffic through Harpers Ferry, the Shenandoah River was an important transportation route until railroads provided convenient and easy access into the surrounding countryside. The Shenandoah flows through a valley between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, with its main stretch between Port Republic and the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers at Harpers Ferry.

Virtually from its incorporation in 1785 , the Potomac Company began work clearing obstructions from the Shenandoah. In 1798 the Shenandoah Company was chartered by the Virginia Assembly to "cut such canals and erect such locks, and perform such other works, as they judge necessary, for opening, improving and extending the navigation of said river to the highest point of the north and south branches that navigation can be extended." Port Republic marked the junction of the North and South branches of the river at a site called the Point. It was thought to be the furthest location up stream to which the river could be made navigable.



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 17)

The Assembly directed the Shenandoah Company to clear the river over the approximately 150 miles between Harpers Ferry to the Point for boats drawing twelve inches of water.

The Shenandoah Company was not able to raise the necessary funds, so it was absorbed by the Potomac Company in 1802 . In 1805 subscriptions were offered on the Shenandoah to complete the remaining locks between Port Republic and the Potomac, According to a report by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Shenandoah supposedly opened for navigation in 1807 . However, the five short canals and few locks which were complete only extended eight miles up stream from Harpers Ferry. Financial problems plagued the Potomac Company and its venture to make the Shenandoah navigable. In 1814 , the rights to Shenandoah navigation were transferred to the new Shenandoah Company which decided to limit navigation of the river to downstream traffic. One-way navigation could be accomplished relatively quickly and cheaply as it required only the construction of sluices, or partial dams and channels. To this end, Charles Lewis and David Galladay were hired to construct sluices and 360 wing dams. By 1823 the river was passable.

The following year the new Shenandoah Company granted James Stubblefield, the superintendent of the Armory at Harpers Ferry, the right to construct a dam and canal along the north side of Virginius Island. Stubblefield was granted unlimited use of the river's water for his grist mill while the Shenandoah Company retained full rights to navigation of the canal. Although a second attempt to revive the Shenandoah Company and raise money for full-scale, two-way navigation on the Shenandoah was launched in the early 1830s, this endeavor was never successful.

Since canal boats were not practical for use in the sluices, flatboats called "gundalows" or gondolas ran goods downstream. These heavy, square-ended boats were generally made of rough-cut planks which could be disassembled at the end of their trip and sold for lumber. The average price for a dismantled boat ranged from $18 to $25. Most gundalows measured about 9 to 10 feet wide, 4 feet high, from 75 to 90 feet long, and drew up to a foot of water. However, a report by the Corps of Engineers in 1880 suggests that gondolas were generally somewhat shorter, ranging from 40 to 65 feet in length. Rudders mounted at both ends were used to maneuver the boat as crews of from four to six persons poled it downstream. Although the size of the boat varied, on average each gundalow could transport twelve tons of iron, eight to twelve thousand feet of lumber, or 110 barrels of flour. Generally, gundalows travelled down the river in convoys. Tin horns about eight feet in length carried on board of many gundalows were used to warn other boats of their approach.

Although traffic on the Shenandoah could never rival the volume of goods transported on the C & O Canal, it was a well-traveled route prior to the Civil War. Before the C & O Canal reached Harpers Ferry in 1833 , gundalows would sometimes enter the Potomac from the Shenandoah and travel downstream to Georgetown. Transporting goods by water was cheaper than over land in wagons, so boats down the Shenandoah were often used to transport grain and other agricultural products from the Shenandoah Valley. The trip down river from Port Republic to Harpers Ferry averaged only three to four days. Flour and iron were most frequently found on boats in the Shenandoah, although lumber, shingles, brandy, rum, apples, potatoes, and corn were also transported by gundalow.



MASONIC HALL

(PhiHp Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 18)

At Harpers Ferry, goods carried on gundalows were either sold, transferred to the canal, or conveyed to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad which crossed the Potomac into the town beginning in January 1837 . Jacob Stipe was one of many convoy leaders who transported flour from farms in the Shenandoah Valley to Harpers Ferry. On January 16, 1841 Stipe advertised in the ockingham Register that he would deliver flour to either the canal or the railroad in Harpers Ferry for the price of $1.00 per barrel. Stipe clearly managed an extensive boating business; the previous year he and his assistants had transported 5,623 barrels down the Shenandoah River. He even owned a saw-mill which produced the lumber used to build his own gundalows. Zack Raines was another convoy leader who transported flour and pig iron to Harpers Ferry in the 1830s . His crew would dispose of their load, break down the boats to be sold as lumber, and return home on foot.

Transportation of goods down the Shenandoah River via gundalow was most active in the decades before the Civil War. By 1868 the Valley branch of the B & O Railroad extended over much of the Shenandoah Valley, thus offering a more efficient means of transportation. Although some gundalow traffic continued down the Shenandoah, floods in 1870 and 1877 wreaked havoc on the old sluices and channels. In 1872 , the West Virginia legislature incorporated the Shenandoah River Navigation Company in the hopes of repairing damage from the 1870 flood. The company obtained $5000 from Jefferson County which was augmented by a few contributions from individuals. A letter was published in the Virginia Free Press on April 11, 1874 urging readers to support this campaign to restore navigation on the Shenandoah. One of the arguments advanced by the author was that the supply of lumber to the county would increase, in terms of both new lumber and dismantled gondola boats. Unfortunately, the few improvements which were accomplished through this effort were rendered virtually useless by the 1877 flood. Little trade continued down the river after 1877, except for iron which continued to be shipped from Miller's Iron Works to the Manassas Railroad at Front Royal and from William Milnes Jr.'s works in Page County to Harpers Ferry. A survey of the river by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1880 determined that it was not feasible to accomplish the necessary repairs, particularly given the presence of the Valley branch of the B & O Railroad.

Advertisements offering gundalow or gondola planks for sale appeared fairly frequently in the Virginia Free Press and the Spirit of Jefferson newspapers in the 1840s and 50s . The earliest notice for gondola lumber in Harpers Ferry which has been located was placed by George Mauzy in the Constitutionalist on September 10, 1840 . It was most likely such a load of gundalow lumber which was purchased by Charity Lodge #111 to construct the elliptical vaulted ceiling in their third floor assembly room in the Masonic Hall Building. Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that Mauzy was listed in the Spirit of Jefferson among the members of the committee of arrangement for the dedication of the new Masonic Hall on June 24, 1846 . Was it, in fact, gondola lumber supplied by Mauzy which was used to construct the vaulted ceiling in the third-floor assembly hall?

William E. Trout, President of the American Canal Society, investigated the gundalow planks used in the vaulted ceiling of the Masonic Hall in August 1993 with historian Michael A. Jenkins. In his report following this investigation, Trout suggested that the impressive and careful finishing of the king-post roof might indicate that the vaulted ceiling was a later



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 19)

addition, although this point remains debatable. In any case, the vaulted ceiling appears to have been constructed entirely from gundalow lumber, including side planks, a bottom plank, and ribs.

According to Trout's investigation of the structure, the vaulted ceiling was constructed with several side boards and one bottom plank which were each at least a foot wide. An elliptical arch was cut into pairs of these boards. Five such pairs of arched boards were attached to the lower chords of the trusses. A series of fifteen stringers were then nailed to the arched boards to form the vault which was covered with lath and plaster until this layer was removed by the National Park Service in September 1956 . The stringers included both gundalow ribs and split side boards.

Gundalow side boards are easily recognizable as they have a line of approximately two-inch square mortise holes spaced about two feet apart along one edge. The mortise holes were used to attach the ribs to the side boards in constructing each gundalow. The side boards also have nails or nail holes along one edge where the bottom planks were attached. Since all of the side boards used in the ceiling were trimmed, it is impossible to determine their original width, but early accounts of gundalow traffic noted that the side boards were generally around fourteen inches wide. All of the side planks in the Masonic Hall ceiling are two inches thick, although the one bottom plank which was used to form part of an arch is only one inch thick.

Fifteen stringers originally ran the length of the ceiling, although only eleven are extant. Both side boards and ribs were used to form the stringers. The side boards had been cut in six-inch strips with mortise holes running down the center. The original boards may have been from 18.5 to 20 feet long, assuming they were cut short to meet at the arches without overlapping. If contemporary accounts of gundalows are accurate, two to five side boards would have been pieced together to form the up to ninety-feet-long flatboats. Following evidence of gundalow planks used in other local buildings, Trout suggested that side planks were routinely split lengthwise into two boards after the boats were dismantled in Harpers Ferry. This process resulted in one six-inch board like those used in the Masonic Hall ceiling and one eight-inch plank free of mortise holes or nail holes along the edge.

A few of the stringers are gundalow ribs which ran between the side boards. They were attached to mortise holes in the side boards by way of tenons about two-inches square which projected from the end of each rib. However, all of the ribs were cut short to span two arches. Trout suggests in his report that the ribs were originally about 8'7" long, including the tenons; this corresponds to written documents which generally claim gundalows were 9' wide. The ribs are recognizable not only by their shape but also because they have nails or nail holes where the bottom planks were attached and a "limber hole," or 3" by 1" notch which allowed bilge water to drain.

Presumably gundalow lumber was used fairly frequently for various structures in Harpers Ferry, particularly in the mid-nineteenth century. Gundalow parts were often used in the construction of fences for the Armory, as Armory records documenting repairs to fences on the Rifle Factory grounds in June 1945 suggest. According to the letter published on April 11, 1874 in the Virginia Free Press urging the improvement of the Shenandoah River,



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 20)

gondola lumber before the 1877 flood amounted to between four and five hundred thousand feet of cheap and useful lumber. Unfortunately, the use of gundalow wood in local structures not owned by the National Park Service remains largely undocumented. The Masonic Hall Building thus remains an important testament to this often overlooked chapter in Harpers Ferry's transportation and architectural history.

PART II. ARCHITECTURAL INFORMATION

A. General Statement

1. Architectural character: The Masonic Hall Building is a three-story structure with load-bearing masonry walls constructed of rubble stone excavated from the adjacent hillside. The northeast wall is formed by the gable wall of the adjacent McCabe-Marmion Building. The Masonic Hall Building has a gable roof with slate shingles, a second-floor balcony with an ornamental cast-iron railing, and no basement. It has a small addition at the rear of the structure originally constructed ca. 1859 which consists of a small, square room between the rear facade and the adjacent rock embankment. The building is of a fairly conventional vernacular type, with the exception of the third-floor Masonic Hall, The elaborate, well-crafted system of king-post roof is particularly distinctive, as is the elliptical vaulted ceiling attached to it which was constructed of "gundalow" timbers.

2. Condition of Fabric: The current condition of the Masonic Hall Building is fair to good. Although deterioration of the exterior structure was largely stabilized in the late 1950s and early 1960s , uneven settlement still causes the building to sag, particularly in the center of theroof. A portion of the third-floor roof and ceiling structure near the northwest wall is still shored up. The interior walls on the second and third floors were never restored or renovated; the plaster finish on both stories has badly deteriorated, and the plaster vaulted ceiling on the third floor has not been replaced. The partition walls and loft structure on the third floor are highly unstable, particularly the loft floor.

B. Description of Exterior:

1. Overall dimensions: A three-story, six-bay-by-two-bay structure, the Masonic Hall Building, as originally constructed, measures approximately 37' 3 1/2" x 44' 8 3/4". Its eastern enclosure is formed by the exterior wall of the adjacent McCabe-Marmion Building. A small addition along the western half of the rear facade extends from the exterior wall to the adjacent rocky hillside to create a room measuring 11' 3/4" by 12' 1/2".

2. Foundations: The building was erected on grade. The outer rubble stone walls and interior cross division wall were constructed directly on natural rock foundations as were the walls enclosing the small room to the rear of the main building.

3. Walls: The roughcast rubble masonry walls were constructed at least in part with Harpers shale removed from the adjacent cliff face. The rear wall is brick from the third floor joist level to the eaves. Brick coursing was also used in the west gable above the third floor door.



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 21)

The older brick portions may include brick Philip Coons salvaged from the Episcopal Church which housed the former Masonic Hall until it burned down on January 7, 1845. At the rear of the west store, stone walls extend from the main building to the adjacent rocky hillside. Although these walls were the remains of an addition which must have been completed ca. 1859 , they had largely deteriorated by the time the National Park Service acquired the building. As part of the early 1960s restoration project, the walls were reconstructed to the height of approximately eight feet. The remains of the low stone foundations which served as a bakery oven were still visible when the building underwent an extensive investigation in 1962, but were covered up by the subsequent renovation. All other structural traces of the bakery have also been removed. The rear wall was largely reconstructed at this end, eliminating the bake oven frame in the process.

The exterior walls are pargeted to the level of the second floor balcony. The front facade to the level of the second floor balcony was most recently painted and scored to resemble coursed masonry in 1985 . Although this was a technique used on the exterior of somebuildings in Harpers Ferry in the mid-nineteenth century, Archie Franzen found no evidence that such a treatment had ever been done to the Coons Building in his 1962 inspection of the building.

4. Structural system, framing: The Masonic Hall Building is a load-bearing masonry construction. The original first floor joists were completely rotted out at the time of the Park Service's renovation in the early 1960s due to the numerous floods which engulfed Shenandoah Street, and have been replaced by a cement floor. The second and third floor joists originally ran between the front and rear facades of the structure. Due to the distance separating the exterior walls, the floor joists were overlapped at mid-span and supported from beneath on a heavy poplar beam running between the gable walls. The poplar beam which supports the third floor joists is still visible from the second floor. Two tie-rods were installed at the level of the third floor cornice and second floor ceiling in 1892 , according to Franzen's report. These tie-rods and the metal plates in the shape of an "S" which secure them are extant. A third tie-rod was added at the level of the first floor ceiling as part of the early 1960s restoration project.

The roof structure is supported by five king-posts alternating with paired rafters. An innovative form of construction was used to counter the horizontal thrust of the heels of the trusses and rafters. The king-posts are notched at the top to receive the trusses. The collar pieces and braces are attached to the truss members by way of bolts constructed of hand-wrought iron. The outer end of the collar pieces is further pinned to the truss member with wooden pegs, while the braces are secured by way of metal spikes at both ends. The connection of the trusses and rafters to the exterior walls is elaborated with further structural components. A wood plate was let into the masonry, at the interior masonry line, its top being level with the top of the masonry wall at the eaves. Triangular shaped blocks of wood buried in the masonry were affixed to this wood plate by means of a mortise and tenons. The wood kick plates were then spiked to the triangular shaped blocks. A vaulted elliptical ceiling constructed with timbers salvaged from Shenandoah "gundalows" was suspended from the lower chord members of the trusses. Side boards and perhaps one



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 22)

bottom plank were cut to form the arched supports for the vault. A series of fifteen stringers which consist of gundalow ribs and cut lengths of side boards were then attached to the arches. Although the plaster was removed by the National Park Service in September 1956 in order to repair the trussing system, the wood vaulting system remains fairly intact, although only eleven out of fifteen stringers have survived. Given the novel and elaborately finished king-post roof, the vaulted ceiling may have been a later addition, although this claim is debatable.

5. Porches, stoops, balconies, exterior staircase: A narrow balcony projects from the second story level along the facade facing Shenandoah Street. The balcony floor is covered with sheet metal. It is supported by three joists running the length of the balcony and seven cast iron brackets below the balcony deck. An ornamental railing of cast iron similar to several other buildings in Lower Town lines the balcony deck. The balcony may have been part of the original construction.

An exterior wooden staircase leads in a straight run of thirty steps from the sidewalk to the third floor. It is interrupted by two contiguous landings at the second floor level which are separated by one step and a third landing at the top of the staircase. The staircase links the southwest exterior wall of the Masonic Hall Building with the adjacent facade of the John G. Wilson Building, and tapers as it ascends because the gable walls of the adjoining buildings are not parallel. From the Masonic Hall, this staircase may be accessed through two doors in the southwest wall, one on the second floor and one on the third floor. Each door opens onto a landing; the remaining landing provides access to the second floor door in the John G. Wilson Building. According to the minutes of Charity Lodge #111, the staircase was repaired several times, including 1870 and 1877 , presumably following the floods in these years, and later in 1890 and 1920 . In 1956 the National Park Service renewed the treads and risers of this staircase. The brick sidewalk in front of the Masonic Hall Building was also restored to its earlier appearance of Harpers shale flagstones.

A wood porch deck was constructed across the west end of the rear facade as part of the National Park Service's rehabilitation of the building in the early 1960s. It was constructed with wood planks laid above the stone walls of the reconstructed rear addition. Wooden railings line the two exposed ends of the porch deck above the walls constructed between the rear facade and the adjacent rocky hill. Cooling towers were installed on this porch in the early 1960s. A drain between the edge of the porch deck and the rock escarpment allows for drainage of this area. The remnants of stone steps carved into the rock escarpment at the back of the building are extremely overgrown and deteriorated. According to Charles Murphy who lived on the second floor of the Masonic Hall Building in the 1930s , these steps provided access to a terrace above the second floor porch which permitted the placement of a privy and provided a yard for clothes drying and other domestic activities.

6. Chimneys: Only one chimney is technically part of the Masonic Hall Building. It is a short, straight chimney with a corbeled lip of two brick courses. A second chimney is located on the west exterior wall of the adjacent McCabe-Marmion Building. Although this wall serves as the eastern enclosure of the Masonic Hall Building, it was erected as part of the construction of the McCabe-Marmion Building.



MASONIC HALL BUILDING

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 23)

7. Openings:

a. Doorways and doors: The Masonic Hall Building has eight exterior doors: two storefront entrance doors in the second and fifth bays from the right; two doors in the north facade on the ground floor also located in the second and fifth bays from the right; three on the second floor in the south, west, and north facades which open onto the front balcony, exterior staircase, and rear porch respectively; and one door on the west facade which provides access to the third floor via the exterior staircase. The two entrance doors are both replacement doors which were installed during the National Park Service renovation in the early 1960s . They have two leaves which are each composed of two equal-sized panels on either side of the lock rail with a third smaller panel on top. The doorway reveals are wood paneling and the doors are surmounted by rectangular transom windows with four lights. The thresholds are cut stone with a second stone step in front of them leading to the sidewalk. A narrow iron railing has been placed on the right side of each door, adjacent to each pair of stone steps.

The two doors on the ground floor of the north facade, and the two doors on the second floor in the south and west facades are all similar in design. All four doors are six-panel, thus combining the pattern of the storefront doors into single-leaf doors. They also have cut stone thresholds, wood panelled reveals, and transom windows with four lights. The second-story door on the north facade which opens onto the rear porch deck is similarly paneled, but has no transom window or panelled reveals and is clearly not original.

The third floor door on the west facade is smaller and more simply cased than the other doors. It has four narrow rectangular panels, is surrounded by panelled reveals, and surmounted by a transom window with three lights.

b. Windows and shutters: The windows have wood frames and originally had cut stone sills and slate headers, several of which have been replaced with concrete sills on the rear facade. On the first and second floors, the windows are double-hung sash with twelve-over-eight lights, whereas the windows on the third floor are six over six lights and are flanked by exterior louvered shutters which are kept closed. The two gable windows in the east facade above the third floor door have been likewise filled in with vertical boards between the stone sills and wood lintels. A third window on this facade exists underneath the exterior staircase. It has a cut stone sill and is double-hung sash with six-over-six lights, as are the windows in the rear facade.

The window in the third bay from the right on the third story was not originally filled with glass as it was occupied by a large Masonic stone tablet. The marble slab was inscribed with the phrase "Sit Lux et Lux Fuit" above "Masonic Hall erected on June 24, 1845 ." Currently, this opening has been blocked off with vertical boards which are painted the same dark brown color as the shutters. The tablet was moved to the new Masonic Hall at 227 Washington Street when the building was constructed in 1951-52 and is still located in one of the second-story windows.



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 24)

8. Roof:

a. Shape, covering: The gable or pitched roof was originally covered with slate. In 1956 the slate was removed and temporary roll roofing applied to eliminate leaks which had developed. The slate shingles were later reinstalled in the fall of 1963 as part of the Park Service exterior restoration project.

b. Cornice, eaves: A corbeled brick cornice of three courses was laid under the line of the eaves. Downspouts which have been painted black run along the eaves and run down the center of the south facade and the northeast corner of the building. A new system of downspouts and gutters was added after the slate roof was reinstalled. An earlier downspouting system conducted the run-off from the rear roof slope to a brick paved gutter at grade level which ran between the Masonic Hall and John G. Wilson Buildings and was probably discharged onto the street via a pipe under the sidewalk. The front roof slope was similarly drained by a downspout which ran down the middle of the front facade to the street.

C. Description of Interior:

1. Floor plans:

a. First floor: The two storefront entrance doors open onto a front vestibule from which the women's and men's toilets may be accessed, to the right and left respectively. A janitor's closet is located off the west end of the vestibule. A door between the two restrooms opens onto a T-shaped hallway which leads to and extends across the rear of the building. At the east end of the rear hallway, a door provides access to the narrow yard, while a door at the opposite end leads to the one-story stone addition at the west end of the north facade which is currently used for oil storage.

b. Second floor: The second floor may only be accessed via the exterior stairs between the Masonic Hall and John G. Wilson Buildings. The door on the second floor landing opens into a large room which includes most of the second floor space, aside from a vestibule along the front facade and a small L-shaped room which has been partitioned off in the southwest corner of this main room. A door directly opposite the entry leads into the small L-shaped room. The remains of a bricked-in fireplace are visible in the southwest wall of this room. Aside from the narrow vestibule area, the second floor houses mechanical system for the building and the two adjacent buildings. The vestibule along the front facade may be entered through a door in the southeast comer of the main room. From the vestibule, a door leads to the front balcony. From the main room, a third door in the north wall provides access to the mechanical deck above the one-story stone rear addition.

c. Third floor: The third floor is also only accessible from the exterior stairs. The floor plan is divided into two small rooms at the west end with the remaining space forming one large assembly room. The square assembly room measures



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 25)

approximately 28' 1" x 28' 11". As the partition wall separating it from the two west rooms does not extend to the north wall, the assembly room may be entered directly from the southwest entry hall. A staircase, which leads to a small rectangular loft area, is located in the center of the west wall. Past the staircase in the west entry hall, a door leads to a small room in the southwest corner of the building which may have served as a cloak closet as it contains a small closet in its northwest corner below the stairs to the loft.

2. Stairways: The only interior staircase which survives is the narrow staircase leading to the third-floor loft. Before the National Park Service rehabilitation of the first and second floors, an interior staircase led from the southwest ground-floor store to the second-floor living quarters. It was constructed along the brick cross wail separating the two ground-floor rooms.

3. Flooring: Concrete floors were installed in the first and second floors as part of the National Park Service rehabilitation in the early 1960s . Ceramic tile was also laid in the firstfloor restrooms. Only the flooring on the third floor may be original, except for a eight-footsquare replacement patch inside the entrance door in the southwest wall. According to Franzen's report, the original flooring on this level was composed of narrower boards than those on the second floor level.

4. Wall and ceiling finish: On the first and second floors, the interior walls were plastered. The new interior partition walls created during the rehabilitation project of the early 1960s on first and second floors were constructed of concrete blocks. Tile was laid over the walls in the first floor restrooms. The partition walls were left unfinished on the second floor. Patches of plaster remain on the exterior walls, but they are badly deteriorated. On the third floor the outer walls are plastered, except for the southwest partition walls which were composed of vertical wood boards. Pilasters were painted onto the southwest and northeast walls, and are still visible. A wooden cornice formerly ran along the spring line level of the vaulted ceiling, but it was removed during the roof restoration. A raised platform used to exist along the northeast wall, but it has been removed. The plaster ceiling was removed by the National Park Service in order to repair the trusses and rafters in September 1956 . The vaulted ceiling was painted light blue with white stars and clouds to the cornice line; this finishing is still visible below the curve of the vault on the two end walls.

5. Openings:

a. Doorways and doors: Two doors open off the large assembly room on the third floor to the vestibule and cloak rooms. Each door has four panels which are surrounded with heavy, ridged moldings.

b. Windows: The windows originally had wood paneled reveals, but few of these remain. On the second floor, the windows had plastered splayed jambs and wood sills. A single board casing with a beaded edge was originally located at the intersection of the splays with the interior wall plane surface, but none of these have survived. On the third floor, the windows splays were not plastered as they were on



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 26)

the second floor but the wood flanks were painted. The casings of these windows have been removed.

6. Mechanical equipment:

a. Heating, air conditioning, ventilation; Heating was originally accomplished by three fireplaces on west elevation, one at each floor level. According to Franzen, the fireplaces were filled in at an early date, and stoves were installed. Stovepipes let into the chimney above the mantelpieces. The Charity Lodge #111 minutes for November 22, 1845 mention that the purchase of a stove had been approved. Later, at an unspecified date, flues in McCabe-Marmion Building were also utilized for stoves in the Masonic Hall Building. Currently, the second floor contains the heating and air-conditioning systems for the Masonic Hall, the John G. Wilson, and the McCabe-Marmion buildings.

b. Lighting: Modern lighting was installed on the first two stories as part of the building's rehabilitation in the early 1960s. On the third floor, six long fluorescent lights, which were probably installed during the Masons' tenure, are suspended below the vaulted ceiling.

c. Plumbing: Plumbing was non-existent prior to the National Park Service renovation. In 1963-64 , plumbing was installed in the building, as this was particularly necessary for the creation of bathroom facilities on the first floor.

D. Site:

1. Historic landscape design: The Masonic Hall Building was one of several buildings on the north side of the street whose lots were enlarged by blasting rock from the adjacent cliff face; the rock which was removed from the cliff was then used in the construction of the buildings. A narrow natural areaway exists between the rear of the building and the rocky cliffside behind. Steps were carved into the face of this rock. According to Charles Murphy, a National Park Service employee and former occupant of the Masonic Hall Building interviewed by Franzen, these steps led from the upper slope of the hill to a back porch at the second floor level. The terrace above provided space for a privy and clothes-drying area. Franzen also suggested in his report that stone masonry crosswalks ran from the building to the rock hillside behind the addition.

The Masonic Hall Building was originally part of a row of commercial buildings which lined the north side of this block of Shenandoah Street at the time of its construction. Wedged between the McCabe-Marmion Building to the east and the John G. Wilson Building to the west, the Masonic Hall Building shared the west exterior wall of the former and an exterior staircase with the latter. The south side of Shenandoah Street, including to Arsenal Square on the next block east, was owned by the federal government. By the time the Masonic Hall was constructed, the section immediately south was lined with dwelling houses which had been constructed to house armory workers. Behind this row of houses lay the Winchester and Potomac Railroad trestle which ran along the shore of the Shenandoah River. Given its



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 27)

proximity to the river, the Masonic Hall Building has been repeatedly innundated by floodwaters throughout its long history.

2. Outbuildings: No evidence of outbuildings have been uncovered. Franzen speculated that a privy may have been located at the crest of the rock hillside, but no material evidence has been uncovered to support this suggestion.

PART III. SOURCES OF INFORMATION

A. Architectural drawings:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park collection, Architect's files, Brackett House:

  • National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, Ray R. Mehl, "Building 44 - Downtown Area," Fabric Investigation drawings (44-1 - 44-8), July 25, 1962 .
  • National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, Ray R. Mehl, "Building 4 4 - Downtown Area," Fabric Investigation working drawings (44-P1 - 44-P8), August 1, 1962 .
  • National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, A. W. Franzen and Ray R. Mehl, "Philip Coons Building #44," drawings in Historic Structures Report Part 1, October 1962 .
  • Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Project, "Masonic Hall (Richards Building)," Measured drawings, Summer 1994 .

B. Early views:

Photographs and prints, Harpers Ferry National and Historical Park collection, U.S. National Park Service

  • HF-1768 Aerial view of Harpers Ferry, engraving, ca. 1854. Reprinted from Eli Bowen, Rambles in the Path of the Steam Horse (Philadelphia: Bromwell & Smith, 1855 ): 191.
  • HF-249 Harpers Ferry from Jefferson's Rock, Jefferson Co., VA, 1855 Lithograph from Edward Beyer's album of Virginia.
  • HF-361 Valley of the Potomac from Harpers Ferry, 1865
  • HF-82 View west down Shenandoah Street from the intersection with Market Street in the aftermath of the flood, 1889
  • HF-99 View of Lower Town from Louden Heights, ca. 1892-1996
  • HF-446 View east down Shenandoah Street showing Masonic Hall Building with J. F. Cassell stoves sign, 1890s
  • HF-526 View from Jefferson Rock, Harpers Ferry, ca. 1896
  • HF-346 View of Shenandoah Street, newspaper photo, 1921


MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 28)

  • HF-1086 "Oldest Part of Shenandoah Street. Harper's Ferry, W. Va.," postcard, ca. early 1920s
  • HF-1444 View of Shenandoah Street during parade, ca. 1920s
  • HF-1542 View of Shenandoah Street during parade, ca. 1920s
  • HF-311 Former Commercial Area of Shenandoah Street, ca. 1950s
  • NHF-542+ Masonic Hall Building, early stabilization of the structure and reconstruction of exterior staircase by the National Park Service, October 1956 (NHF-542 - NHF-598)
  • NHF-1648 Masonic Hali Building, photo by Jack Boucher, prior to restoration, June 1961
  • NHF-2354 Remains of stone addition and foundation behind Masonic Hall Building, July 1963
  • NHF-2355 Remains of stone addition and foundation behind Masonic Hall Building, July 1963
  • NHF-2356 Remains of stone addition and foundation behind Masonic Hall Building, July 1963
  • NHF-2374-75 Construction of bathrooms in Masonic Hall Building, September 1963

C. Bibliography:

1. Unpublished primary sources:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Collection, Harpers Ferry, WV:

-- Deeds, Jefferson County Courthouse, Charles Town, West Virginia.

-- Newspapers:


Virginia Free Press
Spirit of Jefferson
Farmers Advocate

2. Published sources:

Barry, Joseph. The Strange Story of Harper's Ferry (1903 ). Shepherdstown, WV: The Woman's Club of Harpers Ferry District, 1979.

Bushong, Millard K. Historic Jefferson County. Boyce, VA: Carr Publishing Co., 1972 .

Clawson, Mary Ann. Constructing Brotherhood: Class, Gender, and Fraternalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989 .

Day, Price. "While the Rest of the World Goes By: Bypassed by New Road Bridges, the Town that John Brown Made Famous Lives in the Past." Sunday Sun Magazine [Baltimore, MD] (Feb. 5, 1950 ): 10-11.



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 29)

Dumenil, Lynn. Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880-1930. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984 .

Gilbert, David T. A Walker's Guide to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Fifth edition. Harpers Ferry: Harpers Ferry Historical Association, 1995 .

Greiner, Anthony. "Navigation and Commerce on the Shenandoah River of Virginia." The Tiller (Virginia Canals and Navagations Society, Inc.) 14:1 (Spring 1993 ): 10-13.

Moore, William D. "The Masonic Lodge Room, 1870 -1930 : A Sacred Space of Masculine Spiritual Hierarchy," In Elizabeth Collins Cromley and Carter L. Hudgins, eds. Gender, Class, and Shelter: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, V. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995 . 26-39.

Power, Garrett and M. Gordon Wolman. "Report on the Shenandoah River: An Investigation to Determine Navigability." Baltimore: Wetlands/Edges Program of the Chesapeake Research Consortium, Inc. for the Baltimore Distric, Corps of Engineers, March 1975 .

Smith, Merritt Roe. Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977 .

Trout, Bill. "A Non-Returnable Batteau." Tiller (Virginia Canals and Navagations Society, Inc.) 11:4 (Winter 1990 ): 1445.

Virginia Canals and Navigations Society. "The Shenandoah River Atlas." McLean, VA, 1994 .

Wayland, John. Twenty-Five Chapters on the Shenandoah Valley. (1st ed. 1937). Harrisonburg, VA: C.J. Carrier Co., 1989 .

Wayland, John. Rockingham County. Dayton, VA: Ruebush-Elkins Co., 1912 .

Williams, John Alexander. West Virginia. New York:Wayland, John. W.W. Norton, 1976 .

3. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Reports:

Chickering, Patricia and Michael A. Jenkins. "Package 119 Historic Structure Report. History Section: Park Building 44." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service/University of Maryland Cooperative Agreement, August 1995 .

Chickering, Patricia and Michael A. Jenkins. "Historic Structures Report. Historic Study Update: Park Buildings 45 & 45A, 1825 -1952 ." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service/University of Maryland Cooperative Agreement, August 1995 .

Chickering, Patricia. "Park Building 43: McCabe-Marmion Building. Special



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 30)

History Study." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service/University of Maryland Cooperative Agreement, December 1994 .

Gilbert, Cathy, Maureen De Lay Joseph, and Perry Carpenter Wheelock. Cultural Landscape Report: Lower Town, Harpers Ferry, National Historical Park. Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, 1993 .

Ives, Raymond L. "Historic Building Report: The Richards Building (Building No. 44): Administrative Data." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, October 14, 1957 .

Franzen, Archie W. "Historic Structure Report Part I on the Philip Coons Building Sometimes Called the Masonic Hall Building (Building #44): Architectural Data Section." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, October 1962.

Johnson, Mary. "Lots 1 to 7, Block A, to Lot 1, Block B, Shenandoah Street (Part of the Old Arsenal Yard), Harpers Ferry National Historical Park." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service/University of Maryland Cooperative Agreement, December 20, 1994 .

Johnson, Mary. "Catholic School Lot, Presbyterian Church Lot, Jefferson's Lot, and Part of Lot 2 Shenandoah Street, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service/University of Maryland Cooperative Agreement, October 1, 1994 .

Noffsinger, James P. "Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Contributions Towards a Physical History." Philadelphia: National Park Service, Eastern Office of Design and Construction, November 1958 .

Prentice, Joseph R. "Historic Structures Report Part II on the Philip Coons Building Sometimes Called the Masonic Hall Building (Building #44): Administrative Data ection." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, October 1962 .

Snell, Charles W. "A History of the Physical Plant of the U.S. Armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia." 3 Vols. Denver: Denver Service Center/Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, 1980-81 .

Snell, Charles W. "The Business Enterprises and Commercial Development of Harpers Ferry's LowerTown Area, 1803 to 1861." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, April 9, 1973 .

Snell, Charles W. "Historic Structure Report Part II: Historical Data Section for Building No. 44: The Philip Coons Building." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, March 20, 1959 .

Snell, Charles W. "Historic Building Report Part I for Building No. 44, The Richards Building." Harpers Ferry: National Park Service, Harpers Ferry National Monument, October 14, 1957 .



MASONIC HALL

(Philip Coons Building) (William Richards Building)

HABS No. WV-279 (Page 31)

Trout, Bill. "A Report on the Gundalow Wood Found in the Masonic Hall, Building #44 in Harper's [sic] Ferry National Historical Park." Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, August 31, 1993 .

PART IV. PROJECT INFORMATION

This project was sponsored by the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the National Park Service, Donald W. Campbell, Superintendent, under the direction of Peter Dessauer, Park Architect. The documentation was undertaken by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), Robert J. Kapsch, Chief, under the direction of Paul Dolinsky, Chief of HABS; with the assistance of HABS Architect Frederick J. Lindstrom and HABS Historian Catherine C. Lavoie. The first phase of the project was completed during the summer of 1994. The second phase of the project was completed during the summer of 1995 at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park by project supervisor Elizabeth Louden (Texas Institute of Technology) and field foreman Mary Ellen Strain (Florida State University) with architecture technicians Jennifer Andrews (University of Arizona), Arpad Furu (Budapest Technical University, through US-ICOMOS), Burke Greenwood (Miami University), Randy Plaisance (Tulane University), and Barbara Stein (Harvard University). The project historian was Sheila R. Crane (Northwestern University). Chief Park Historian Bruce Noble and Project Historians Patricia Chickering, Michael Jenkins, and Mary Johnson provided invaluable assistance and a useful orientation to the historical resources of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The park's historical database, which has been developed by historians working under a cooperative agreement with the University of Maryland, has been an essential resource for all historical reports produced for this project. Photographs were produced by Jack E. Boucher, HABS photographer.