History of Highland Masonic Lodge
John Wildi came to America in 1872 with a strong knowledge of machine embroidery on fine cloth and the ability to speak three languages. Because of his unique skills and abilities he entered into partnership with Johan Rusch and John Spindler to found the Highland Embroidery Works. Later joined the forerunner of the Pet Milk Company, then known as the Helvetia Milk Company where he served as the secretary / treasurer for 20 years.
In 1893 the Wildi‘s purchased three city lots for $2,900.00. On this site the New Switzerland Hotel had once served weary Railroad travelers.
Wildi commissioned M. O. Ulrich to build a French revival-style home and carriage house for his family. The home was built with rough-faced lime stone for the basement and smooth yellow brick for the first and second floors. The house is symmetrical in design, with two rounded turrets with pointed roofs. Because in those days you were unable to go to a local lumber yard and purchase materials to build this home; all the wood was brought in and cut to fit each application on site. All the mill work on the two fireplaces and through-out the rest of the house is of dark Cherry. The main entrance door is solid oak with parquet flooring running from the entry foyer to the Social Hall thus creating a wonderful home which is now on the Historic Registry in Highland.
Upon his death in 1910 John Wildi‘s widow , Louise, continued living in the home. Then in 1920 Mrs. Wildi deeded her home in a trust to the Brothers of the Highland Masonic Lodge #583 with the stipulation that if for any reason the Masons were to disband, that one of the affiliated organizations should take over the house.
Mrs. Louise Wildi also donated $10,000.00 to the Masonic Lodge if they could match it for the purpose of adding on a Dining Hall and Lodge Room. On March 4th, 1922 the addition was dedicated. In 1933 Mrs. Wildi set up an endowment trust fund for the maintenance and upkeep of the building.
The John Wildi Masonic Temple has served for over eight decades as the home of the Highland Masonic Lodge #583; the Royal Arch Masons; the Highland Chapter #524 of the Order of the Eastern Star; the Hannah Shrine #104 Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem; Unity Court #21 Order of the Amaranth; Bethel #91 of the Order of the Jobs Daughters; and DeMolay. The Temple has served as host to countless other community organizations and activities over the years.
The Brothers of the Highland Masonic Lodge are very fortunate to be the recipients of such a wonderful facility. But along with these benefits comes a tremendous responsibility for its proper care and preservation. So our future generations will be able to have the same benefits as we have enjoyed. It is for this reason that the Lodge sponsors the Annual Sausage Super each year.
We hope you have enjoyed a little bit about the History of the John Wildi Masonic Temple , please check out some of the pictures both outside and inside of our Lodge and Museum. And if you are traveling about , please feel free to stop by and sit in on a stated meeting with your Brothers and share in our refreshments for All Freemasons Will Be Warmly Received and Welcomed.