BANDON — It has been known as the First National Bank Building and the Bank of Bandon and the Masonic Building.
Now this Bandon treasure is closer than ever to being placed on the National Register of Historic Places, thanks in no small part to help from Main Street and the Greater Bandon Association.
The history of this building is rich. The First National Bank of Bandon erected this two story, concrete building in 1915. That bank closed in April of 1925. During the 1920s and 1930s, the second story of the building was the telephone exchange for the West Coast Telephone Company.
The Bandon fire of 1936 breathed new life into the building as it was one of the few commercial structures to survive the fire and the nearby Bank of Bandon moved in.
When the Bank of Bandon moved to new quarters in 1954, the building housed the publishing plant for the Western World.
The Bank of Bandon sold the building to the Bandon Masonic Lodge Corporation in 1955. It has occupied the building since and rents the first floor to merchants: The Cobbler’s Bench and the Spirit of Oregon.
Bandon’s Masonic Lodge has been exploring and pursuing National Register placement for some time, according to Harv Schubothe, chairman of the GBA. The primary challenge always has been gathering the information and producing the voluminous documentation required to successfully apply for the designation.
Bandon recognized the Masonic Temple as one of the town’s permanent historic structures and one that was not on the National Registry in its application to become a Main Street town in 2009.
In 2011, the coordinator of Oregon Main Street, in an assessment of Bandon’s Main Street program, the Greater Bandon Association, recommended that it support the Masons in their efforts to stabilize their historic building. GBA established helping the Masons gain placement on the National Register as one of its primary goals in 2012. But, again, the labor-intensive, time-consuming preparation of the application itself stood in the way, Schubothe said.
The breakthrough finally came through in early 2014 when Oregon Main Street provided the funding for an intern of the University of Oregon’s Architecture school to work with the Greater Bandon Association and in turn the Masons to complete the application. In the past, these summer interns, funded by Oregon Main Street, had provided one-on-one technical assistance to property and business owners on elements of good design and how to apply them to their properties in Bandon and other Main Street towns.
The intern contacted the Greater Bandon Association who in turn brought in the Masons to provide the information that the intern would need to complete her paperwork. A trip to the Bandon site provided the photographs and gathering of measurements and other information she required. In November, the intern completed her work, took the application to the State Historic Preservation Office for some final touches and submitted it for review.
The next step is a review and final decision by the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation. If successful, the committee will forward the nomination to the keeper at the Federal Preservation Office. The Advisory Committee’s next meeting will be in mid-February 2015 at a location yet to be announced.