Elizabeth Lodge 215 F & A M
ELIZABETH LODGE 215 F & A M,
Constructed for use as a Masonic lodge in 1867, Elizabeth Hall still houses the Freemasons of the New Blaine area. In addition to its major purpose the lodge has served as a school, a church, and a funeral chapel. Today it stands as one of the finest remaining rural structures erected in nineteenth-century Arkansas.
Both the site of construction and the lumber used were donations by the Freemasons of New Blaine. The site was located next to Elizabeth Cemetery, a cemetery named in honor of Mrs. Elizabeth Cravens Reel, who in 1863 became the first person to be buried in the new cemetery. Construction was carried out under the supervision of the New Blaine sheriff, E. N. Griffeth, and the lodge was officially chartered November, 1868.
In the succeeding years the upper floor constituted the Masonic lodge and the bottom floor was used as a church and school. The school was discontinued fifty years ago, and currently the hall on the first floor is used exclusively for funerals, but the second floor continues to serve as the Masonic lodge. The building is currently maintained by volunteers.
The architectural appearance of Elizabeth Hall reflects the simplicity of rural life in Arkansas during the nineteenth century. The boxlike main mass is covered with a low-pitched, gable roof. The walls are faced with recently applied, fire-proof, asbestos siding. However, the new siding retains the austere character of the original white wooden walls. Windows appear only on the broader north and south elevations. The fenestration is uniform, featuring a row of four identical sash windows per floor on each elevation. The doorways are located on the narrow east and west elevations. The lone decorative touch applied to the structure is the bracketed dormer hood placed over the main entranceway on the east elevation.
In 1960 a small one-story addition, housing a family room, was attached to the north elevation, giving the lodge an ell shape.
The bottom floor of the interior forms a single, large room. The top floor is subdivided into a meeting hall and two small ancillary rooms. The hand-planed wooden walls of the interior have been paneled.
Elizabeth Hall rests in its original setting, the Elizabeth cemetery, which one feature writer has described as being one of the most beautiful rural cemeteries in Arkansas.
While alterations have hidden some of the original components of the lodge, its original, simple character remains unchanged. With its original setting providing an authentic backdrop, Elizabeth Hall is one of Arkansas’ best nineteenth-century rural landmarks.
Elizabeth Hall’s significance thus lies in three areas. First, it is an outstanding example of the architecture of a nineteenth-century Arkansas meeting hall. Second, it symbolizes over a century's history of Freemasonry in Arkansas. And last, it is a solid reminder of New Blaine's past. As school, church, funeral hall and Masonic lodge, Elizabeth Hall has been the focus of life in New Blaine since Reconstruction times. The building's historic relationship to this community is certain and very significant.
Cravens, Jesse (Secretary, Elizabeth Lodge 215 F&AM). Interview held on October 30, 1975.
Federal Writers Project. Logan County, Arkansas. Little Rock, Arkansas, Arkansas History Commission.
South West American (Fort Smith). “Plans Underway for 100th Anniversary of Elizabeth Hall Cemetery Near Paris”, May 4, 1967.