ZANESVILLE — It was just after 7 p.m. Friday when the Masonic Temple started coming down frame by frame, brick by brick.
Most people wouldn't dare leave their homes on a night like that, when temperatures were expected to plummet to 2 degrees. Ice and a foot of snow remained Friday after a winter storm earlier this week.
But they still came out late Friday.
Friday night updates: Masonic Temple set for demolition
Crowds were still drawn across the Y- Bridge to watch something that couldn't be seen again: The historic building — or at least what remains of it after a fire destroyed it on Jan. 6 — was set to be demolished.
The Masonic Temple is something many aren't ready to let go, but they still came that evening to say goodbye.
Stories span across generations
With her car window rolled down, Sandra Rosenberger pointed to three windows on the northern side of the building where her daughter's business, Sage REdesign, was located.
"It was my daughter's dream," she said. "It was just starting to fly."
Rosenberger's story is far from the only one. Memories span across generations, with over a century of history set to be reduced to a pile of rubble.
More than a dozen cars had lined up on Fourth Street Friday night by the time demolition crews paused working around midnight. Some spectators were drawn for their longstanding connections. Others watched simply for the spectacle.
The bitter cold kept many from getting closer, but some migrated from behind their steering wheels to get a better view. One who chose to brave the cold on foot was John Alford.
The lifelong Zanesville resident stood a block away from the Masonic Temple in an unzipped green coat. His nose was red from the icy wind as he gazed at the temple, one of the tallest buildings in downtown.
He had never been inside. Now, his only memory will be watching dust fly as crews tear through its walls.
"I really wish I had gone through there, and I've been in Zanesville all my life," he said. "That's a piece of history I really missed."
One-hundred twenty years of history, to be exact.
Masonic Temple history: Over a century of history lost in Zanesville's Masonic Temple blaze
It started as a place where freemasons gathered. Now it also houses businesses.
Tim Joseph and Dave Allton also have decades of memories there. Allton got his first drivers license there in 1970, when the temple housed the BMV.
"It's such a beautiful place. I hate to see it go," Joseph said.
Bruce Reavley had been in his truck since 6:30 a.m. to get a front-row seat of the place he regularly visited in his youth. "I used to go in and out of that temple years ago," Reavley said.
The 75-year-old recalls hopping on the old elevator — still employing elevator operators by the time the temple burned down — and visiting the barber shop and shoe shine stand.
Fast forward to 2022, and everything else is also gone.
History, memories lost in fire
About half of the Masonic Temple was demolished by Saturday morning. The Fourth Street side had been knocked down to a skeletal frame of steel.
No one was hurt in the fire two weeks ago, but its impact was far-reaching. Sixty artists and small businesses lost everything in the blaze.
Monica Hoadley's father was a member of the Amity Lodge. One of his memories was the fine woodworking in the historic building.
"He remembers the old, wooden stairs. He said that fire probably went up those stairs like a chimney," Hoadley said.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire. Zanesville Fire Department Chief Jeff Bell previously said they may never know what caused it. Investigators had limited ability to enter and search the building for clues.
There is a time capsule placed in the cornerstone of the building. Officials haven't indicated yet whether it can be recovered.
"You hate to see this happen, but we're glad no one got hurt," Rosenberger said. "We have just been so broken-hearted."
This article originally appeared on Zanesville Times Recorder: Broken-hearted: Saying goodbye to Zanesville's Masonic Temple