A historic temple in the River Valley has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind entertainment venue.
The Fort Smith Masonic Temple, which is located in Fort Smith, was first opened in 1929. The building provided office space, classrooms and supported ceremonial activities for Masonic lodges throughout Arkansas.
“A group of masons and different organizations got together to raise money to build this building, so they could all be housed under one roof,” said Carol Smith, Manager of Promotions and Membership at Temple Live. “The masons supported widows and orphans, so they did a lot of great community work. It was a very big time commitment for them.”
The masons ended up restructuring how they met and eventually put the temple up for sale. Temple Holdings LLC purchased the building in 2014. The temple was restored and transformed into an entertainment venue.
“Fort Smith and the surrounding area should feel proud of this building,” said Ed Love, Executive Vice President of Finance at Beaty Capital Group, which owns Temple Live. “It’s so easy to go downtown and knock a building down and make it into a parking lot. And, it’s hard to preserve. We have done hard work here. We were able to come in and add some modern touches, while preserving the look that it had when it was built in 1929.”
The building is approximately 53,000 square feet in size and is comprised of four stories. It’s constructed of Bedford Stone and contains three large banquet halls, a full basement with a commercial kitchen and an auditorium with seating for 1,100 people.
“The history is one of the most unique features of this building,” Love said. “There’s nothing like it. You could not recreate this. The craftsmanship, the beauty, you couldn’t do this.”
Now known as Temple Live, the venue offers a place for meeting, gathering, dining and musical events.
“We have a one-of-a-kind venue here,” Smith said. “We’ve taken a building that the masons used for many years to do community outreach and are preserving their history. We are providing Fort Smith with a great entertainment venue as well as an event space to be used. We are pulling in people from not just this city, but from around the area and surrounding states as well.”
The Fort Smith Masonic Temple was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992.