Opening Knight: Pythian Cornerstone Is Laid

On December 5, 1901 the cornerstone of the new Knights of Pythias lodge hall was laid at Main and 3rd streets.

The new hall, a replacement of the hall built in 1881, would cost $17,000 ($468,000 today).

This is the first hall, which stood at the same location. The original suit of armor—nicknamed “St. George”—can be seen in the corner niche. At some point in time St. George lost his right “hand” to gunfire, possibly administered by rowdy cowboys.

The current St. George is a replica that was made when the second building was restored in 1981.

The cornerstone boasts that the 1881 building was the first Pythian temple ever built.

knights 6-9-81 dwhBut the Dallas Weekly Herald on June 9, 1881 clarified that: It was the first Pythian temple built in Texas. The cornerstone for that fist building was laid on June 7. Note that the reception was held at the El Paso Hotel.

 

pythias cornerstone sanguinet

In 1899 the two local Knights of Pythias lodges (Queen City and Red Cross) had announced plans to replace the 1881 building. The projected cost: $12,000 ($330,000 today).

This is the 1901 sketch of the second building by architects Sanguinet and Staats.

In the 1970s Haltom’s jewelry store moved into the building from the old Fort Worth Club Building.

The new building opened on May 19, 1902. The early twentieth century was the heyday of fraternal lodges in America. One scholar estimated that “every fifth man belonged to at least one of the nation’s seventy thousand fraternal lodges.” Fort Worth had many fraternal lodges, most now defunct.

The Knights of Pythias fraternal organization had been founded in Washington, D.C. in 1864. Pythias was a figure in Greek legend who exemplified friendship.

Some views of the Knights of Pythias lodge hall:

window pythiaspythias column ionicwindow pythias2glass pythiasglass pythias gables

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2 Responses to Opening Knight: Pythian Cornerstone Is Laid

  1. Steve A says:

    How can they make that claim when the K of P Building in Virginia City was built in 1876 and still stands? Perhaps there is some difference between a building, a castle, and a temple that escapes me.

    • hometown says:

      I wondered about that, which is why I attributed the claim. Because so many lodges rented space in their halls–retail, etc.–I wondered if this one was built with no such intention (although I know the replacement hall was used by outsiders, including non-Pythian lodges). Or, as you say, the key may lie in the word “temple.”

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