History of the 1894 Lodge

The building was constructed as a school by Contractor R.L. Plasket in 1894, under the authority of Washington Township Trustee, Toby Bower. This venture began with the agreement, that the New Washington Masonic Lodge No. 167 F&AM, would build their meeting hall on the third floor (stated in lodge records as a cost of $600.00). In Indiana at this time it was common that both a lodge and a school share the same building. Grade school was on first floor, high school on the second floor, and Masonic Lodge on the third floor.

In the early 1920’s, a new school was built a couple of blocks north of the Lodge. This new school was destroyed by fire in 1925, temporarily forcing them, to hold classes back in Lodge Hall. Several local churches also served as an educational venue while constructing another school.  

In 1926 the first floor was converted to a movie theater with the projection room located behind what now is the stage. The theater was operated until the beginning of World War II. After the war ended, the theater was reopened with movies being shown on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, until closing in the mid 1950’s. (The original projection room sign, is on the door on left side of the stage, reel cases are on back stage wall, projectors are on each side in the front of stage, and there is a display case, to the right of the stage, containing all movie memorabilia found in projection room, during renovation). The Masons then converted the first floor, into a dining hall and added a kitchen operated by The Eastern Star ladies. The hall was also used as a community venue for wedding receptions, community meetings, and other functions. The Masons ultimately built a new meeting hall, and this historic edifice became the last joint schoolhouse and operating Masonic Lodge in the state of Indiana.

In 2000 Beverly and Marvin Maxwell saved this significant building from demolition by purchasing the property from the Masons. The Maxwell’s renovated the building and opened it as a restaurant under the name, A Step Back. This “new” facility served home style cooking, held plays, wedding receptions, and other communal events. The Maxwell’s started a community museum with items displayed in the first floor lobby and continued on the second floor. These artifacts included an early 1800’s wagon, used by the Bower family as they moved from North Carolina to New Washington. All items are still on display today, including the Bower tombstones.

 In June of 2013 the building was purchased by Kevin Nowlin, Greg Hostettler, and Kevin Wiggam. The original building has undergone a complete renovation from the roof down. A new commercial kitchen has been added, a full service bar, along with an indoor-outdoor dining room. Many of these antiques displayed throughout the establishment have been salvaged from local barns, as was the wood used in the building of the furniture. Please enjoy this beautiful and historic building.

The 1894 Lodge opened in March 2015 and is located in New Washington’s first schoolhouse. The lodge has been serving both quality interpretations of classic dishes and daring new ventures.

The 1894 Lodge’s interior reflects the beautiful craftsmanship of artisanal woodworking intertwined with the rustic and comforting stylings of a relaxed country oasis.  The multi-level building offers diners several seating choices as well as a means to observe precious antiques, closely related to the history of the building and community. Visit the 1894 Lodge to experience the art of dining. Enjoy an evening with friends and family.