An ad posted this week seems to suggest the Freemasons who own downtown Watertowns decaying temple are ready to deal with whomever will buy it. The temple is similar to Masonic structures built in communities around the world, some large and imposing, some as small as a single room.
As Freemasonry waned in membership, the Washington Street structure did too and there were efforts to keep the building viable through renting office space.
When the building finally became vacant, the Masons offered it for sale and while many have looked at it, the massive structure didn't sell and the price has been dropping to its current asking price of $125,000. Essentially two vexing problems. What would one do with the building and what about the cost of renovation ?
Now, frustrated with the lack of a sale and still paying taxes on the building, a deadline has been set for July 23 to review any and all offers. One presumes a sale may be imminent.
Because it is a privately owned building the sale decision is clearly with the owners and the due diligence to research the use and condition of the building has rested with the prospective purchasers. There is a suggestion to publicly fund a study on the building, but if a sale occurs first, one doesn't know what happens with that idea.
The building is a bit of a hazard with its falling pieces of stone, but with no one using the property, that issue is limited. The building is decaying, but has the look of an ancient ruin, so ironically its not that offensive visually.
Downtown buildings have been the subject of many efforts in recent years and there have been some stunning successes. A handful of buildings remain a challenge and the one we at City Hall have been most concerned about is the Woolworth Building, truly the cornerstone of Downtown. After helping secure $2.5M in state money for a proposed hotel project, that effort seems stalled.
Sometimes all the King's horses and men cannot fix something like the Temple. The building needs a mission and other than talk of an art gallery or an opera house, little has been said about what could go there.
At this point, the Woolworth Building is the number one priority and the Masonic Temple is going to have to find its direction through the action of the market place. On July 23 we will see if there are indeed offers. After that, public agencies can decide on a study.
Masonic Temple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia