|Cox Building – Maysville, Ky.|
In November of 2010, fire ravaged Maysville’s historic Cox Building (photos). I immediately remembered the story when I was in Maysville the following month and observed all of the scaffolding around the building’s remaining shell. It was clear that the roof and top floor was a complete loss.
The building first opened in 1887 with its upper floors (primarily the Third) being a Masonic Lodge for the York Rite Knights Templar. Its opening was attended by Gov. J. Proctor Knott (a Templar) who stated that “The Temple is pronounced the handomest in Kentucky, and one of the finest in the South.”
The Cox Building replaced a tanyard and a “dilapidated two-story brick” with a Romanesque five-story designed by W. R. Brown of Crapsey & Brown, Cincinnati. The Masons shared their space throughout the years with other orders and organizations, including other Masonic rites, the Eastern Stars and the Grand Army of the Republic. Storefronts and offices contained a number of different businesses. Later, portions of the upper floors were converted into low-income housing.
The Cox Building is symmetrical on each of its visible facades with a tower in its corner. Visible in the tower shingles was a red cross – a tangible connection to the resident Templars. Of course, the Masons included a number of other architectural flourishes in the building’s design. Although the building appears to be a four story structure, there are in fact five stories with an ‘intermediate’ fourth floor between Three and Five. Apparently, this ‘intermediate’ floor contained the Red Cross Room and armoury (to be certain, it would have been the most secretive areas in the building as it was unknown from the street).
The City of Maysville acquired the building in 2006 and sought to renovate it as a community center which would include a culinary school to be part of the local community college. After the fire, the building was nominated for inclusion on the National Register with the hope of securing more grants to return this beautiful landmark of Maysville to its glory.
UPDATE: On August 18, 2011, the Cox Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places (11000538).