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Plano’s most haunted building: The Masonic Lodge

Is the Masonic Lodge in downtown Plano Collin County’s most haunted building? The following excerpt from Haunted Plano by Mary Jacobs woudl have you believe that it is.

Plano’s most haunted building: The Masonic Lodge

By Mary Jacobs

There was no doubt in his mind. Kevin Main was absolutely certain he had locked the door.

Kevin was working late, alone, well into the night, preparing a meal that the brothers would share the following evening. He always made sure the door was secure working in the second-floor kitchen late at night. Given the Masonic Lodge’s downtown location, confused passersby occasionally wandered in if the door was left unlocked.

So, there was no explanation when he heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Heavy, deliberate footsteps, like a man wearing work boots.

A chill went up Kevin’s spine as he peered down the stairwell. No one was there.

Kevin Main’s experience was one of many reported by the members of Plano Masonic Lodge No. 768, easily Plano’s most haunted old building.

“That happened a number of times, and I’m not the only one who has heard it,” he said. “Many brothers working here late have heard these footsteps on the stairs.”

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On another occasion, Kevin remembered descending the stairwell, and just as he reached the landing, about halfway down, he heard footsteps right behind him.

“This was years ago, and I don’t remember anything else from that evening, but the footsteps—they were so clear,” he recalled.

If you’re not a Mason, you’ll need special permission to enter the main room where the lodge meetings take place. There you’ll see a candlelit altar, an original pressed-tin ceiling and a lighted letter G, which stands for “God” and “Geometry.” There’s a wall of portraits of the lodge’s past masters, most of them long dead, peering over the proceedings. Theater-style chairs line each side of the room, with seats that may be raised or lowered as needed.

masonic lodge

Does J.W. Shepard still haunt the halls of the Masonic Lodge? Photo from the Frances Bates Wells Collection, courtesy of the Genealogy Center, Plano Public Library System.

On many occasions, a brother has arrived at the lodge, alone, and peeked inside the main room, noticing that three or four seats were in the down position. A little later, he’d return and see that those same seats in the raised position.

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It’s happened more than once to Kevin Main.

“I would’ve known if someone was in the building at the time, but there wasn’t,” he said. “This was a common experience, something many others have witnessed as well.”

One past master of the lodge has heard the sound of a little girl laughing late at night. He was so unnerved that he no longer enters the building alone after dark. One woman was frightened by the same sound more than thirty years ago while leading meetings of Rainbow Girls (an associated group for young girls) at the lodge.

On other occasions, Kevin witnessed doors closing on their own and objects moving with no human involvement, like the chair that slid out from under a table and across the floor.

Years ago, two paranormal investigation teams spent the night in the building, with Kevin there to supervise. They spotted orbs and other signs of paranormal activity.

“One woman in particular pointed to the pictures of past members on the wall, and she was confirming some things about these men that would not be common knowledge,” he said.

The Masonic Spirit

Kevin Main thinks the footsteps could be the spirit of J.W. Shepard, one of the building’s early owners and a Mason himself.

“The footsteps on the stairs feel like a strong presence—someone who’s self-assured, confident and maybe not very happy,” Kevin said. “In my mind, I’ve always connected the unexplained happenings to Shepard.”

masonic lodge

Exterior of the Masonic Lodge. Photo by Debi Adams.

Shepard owned a 2,200-acre cattle ranch and farm in Plano and was internationally known for his fine livestock, especially his mules. He also owned eleven cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill and a flour mill. Shepard served on Plano ISD’s school board from 1899 until 1911 and on the Plano City Council.

When Shepard passed away in 1946, his obituary in the Dallas Morning News said, “Probably no other man has done so much for Plano and south Collin County, furnished work to more people and fed more hungry, less fortunate people, than J.W. Shepard.”

Shepard and his wife sold the building to the Masonic Lodge No. 768 in 1924. Maybe he doesn’t care for the intrusion. Or possibly, as a Mason and a member of the lodge, Shepard just wants to make his presence known. J.W. Shepard was an influential citizen and an important figure in Plano’s history. Maybe he just can’t quite let go of his beloved hometown.

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Look at a photo of Shepard, and you might agree with Kevin’s theory. Shepard stares back with an unrelenting gaze. You do get a sense of an imposing and powerful person who might just be too stubborn to let death keep him down.

The building that’s now home to Masonic Lodge No. 768 was once the location of one of Plano’s first hotels, the Moore House. Travelers passing through on the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, just a few steps away, would stay here. The original Moore House burned down in the great fire of 1895, along with much of downtown Plano. The brick building that’s now standing replaced it a few years later.

As you enter the building, notice the numbers on the façade: 19, 768, 25. Those represent the year the Masons finished remodeling the building and began occupying it—1925—and the lodge’s number, 768. So that’s why it says “1925” even though it was built almost thirty years earlier. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the downtown area.

So why is the Masonic Lodge so haunted? The ancient Celts used the term “thin places” to describe places where the veil between this life and the next is thin.

Masons spend a lot of time pondering this life as well as the next. To become a Mason, you must go through three degrees, representing the three main phases of life—youth, manhood and, finally, old age and death. (And yes, that’s where the expression “the third degree” originates.)

It’s not morbid—it’s a reflection on the briefness of our earthly existence and the importance of living well during our short time in this realm. While it’s not a religious organization, Masons do believe in the immortality of the soul.

Maybe that’s what makes this Masonic Lodge—a thin place—a space where the spirits feel at home? It’s something to ponder.

Excerpted from Haunted Plano (History Press, September 17, 2018) by Mary Jacobs

More at: hauntedplano.com

Mary Jacobs
Mary Jacobs is a freelance writer specializing in health and fitness, spirituality, and issues relating to older adults. She writes regularly for The Dallas Morning News, The Silver Century, Religion News Service and other publications. Mary is a graduate of Leadership Plano Class 31, served as a speaker and a founding organizer of TEDxPlano and is producer of Plano Podcast.

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