FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Last century saw a boom in men’s fraternal organizations in Fort Wayne and the nation.

Freemason David Williams said the ranks grew here after the War between the States, World War I and World War II when peace from war was sought with the brotherhood of being together.

The organizations constructed grand monuments to their fraternal lodges, but with declining membership, hundreds of significant historic buildings in the state are “at risk,” according to Indiana Landmarks, which issued the category this week as one of its 10 most endangered sites.

While the buildings are not specifically identified by Indiana Landmarks, two of these types of lodges are part of the streetscape in downtown Fort Wayne.

Both are architecturally significant in their own way, according to Connie Haas Zuber, executive director of ARCH, a local preservation non-profit that keeps tabs on historic buildings worth preserving and even does some of that preserving itself.

Haas Zuber said it’s important that Indiana Landmarks included the category “historic fraternal lodges…as endangered and worthy of concern,” and listed the Masonic Temple at 216 E. Washington Blvd. and the former International Order of Oddfellows at 210 E. Jefferson Blvd as Fort Wayne treasures.

The 70,000-square-foot, 12-story Masonic lodge “opened in 1926 when the Masons built it as their home. It was designed by local architect, Charles Weatherhogg. It’s a neoclassical temple. It’s gorgeous. It’s a big complicated beautiful building and it is still owned by the Masonic organizations that built it,” Haas Zuber said.

According to online sources, the building’s exterior is Indiana limestone with four 5-story Ionic columns.

In the same block on East Jefferson Boulevard, at 210, stands the 13,000 square foot, 2-story Oddfellows building built in 1955 with limestone, concrete and brick. A deep red granite planter wraps around the front exterior to the entry. At the top, a red aluminum vent is topped with a plate reminiscent of vintage Greyhound bus designs.

“It’s a really zippy-looking building,” Haas Zuber said. Indiana Northeast Public Radio purchased the building in 2016 from local developers Hanning and Bean, according to online property records, and tried to make it its headquarters.

“It’s a much smaller building. It’s a modern building. It’s called ‘streamline moderne’,” Haas Zuber said in a sit-down interview this week. That building was designed by Alvin M. Strauss, another local architect, “who was very well regarded.”

“Architects I know who are really into modern architecture really like this building. It has had good times and bad.  To their credit, WBOI secured the exterior of the building. And in historic preservation that’s the first thing you do, because that protects the building from damage,” Haas Zuber added.

These buildings were constructed during the “social contract era,” during “an important part of our city at the time when people joined lodges. These organizations were part of what made the place tick.”

Williams said that the Masons have tried to raise their profile in Fort Wayne by being part of the city-wide “Be a Tourist in Your Hometown.” Upkeep is achieved through lodge memberships and renting the space out for weddings and other events. The rental is very reasonable, he said.

The members which at one time reached 10,000, now in the hundreds, recently had a “long broken elevator” repaired and are looking at replacing boilers. Three out of eight local lodges operate out of the building, Williams said.

WANE reached out to WBOI to see if the East Jefferson building is for sale.

“We don’t have a public statement on the building at this time,” Tim Roesler, WBOI’s interim president and general manager said in an email. “I will be working with our board of directors on a strategic plan which will guide us on the future of all our assets, and future planning.”

“Our board of directors does understand the significance of the building, and it’s in no danger,” Roesler added in the email.

ARCH is a partner with Indiana Landmarks, Haas Zuber said and supports all efforts to preserve these buildings.

“All buildings are unique. It’s the only one and we just need to hang on to it and take care of it until we find a new use,” she said.