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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When the Profane World Protects Treasures We Toss


Here is what happens when a private individual thinks more of a Masonic treasure than our own members, and preserve what we throw away. From the Old House Dreams website comes a real estate listing for a unique property in Little Falls, New York, built in 1914, and recently modernized.
Incredible Building! Former Masonic Lodge in perfect condition. Over 12,000 square feet of space! The walk-out basement, now a ceramics studio, has the wood floors of the original bowling alley! The Main Level is now 3000 sq. ft. of dramatic living space with a large, spacious, open floor plan, including beautiful oak trim and arched openings. One bedroom is in the round turret, the kitchen is amazing with extensive cabinets and huge windows. The dining room and living room are wow rooms! An auditorium with stage and commercial kitchen take up the third floor.
The fourth level houses the Masonic meeting room, complete with domed ceiling and pipe organ. Fabulous property for an artist, an architect, a dancer, an entertainer, wedding planner, and the list of possibilities goes on and on. Make it your Castle today!
Yes, the lodge room is still up there, in magnificent condition. William Moore thought this Temple noteworthy enough to mention it in his book, Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes. It was designed by William Neil Smith with a Templar Commandery drill hall/banquet room (we served "banquets" then, not cold spaghetti on paper plates with plastic sporks).

Even the former Commandery's glass-front uniform lockers are still there in the Armory. All still preserved, but now with a new living space, bedroom, and modern kitchen on one floor. It is artistically beautiful, and architecturally unique. 



And it used to belong to us. 

It doesn't anymore.

It's priced at an almost embarrassing $325,000, and I'll make a bet you couldn't build a new steel pole barn architectural eyesore in a corn field for that today.

(H/T Chad Bromley)

7 comments:

  1. The reason this building is a former Masonic Temple is that the Lodge closed years ago. According to the Grand Lodge of New York's Lodge Locator (https://nymasons.org/2016/lodge-locator/), the closest lodge to Little Falls is in Dolgeville.

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  2. How was the building set up before the renovations? Any pictures from before?

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  3. The reason the building is priced so low is because there is very little economic activity in the region that could support a higher prive, much less the ongoing maintenance of a building of such stature. One would need to be independently wealthy in order to take that white elephant on. It would make an amazing community arts center, if it could be made ADA-compliant, but it would need serious funding to operate.

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    1. I'm also going to guess that it costs a fortune to heat it.

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  4. Why did we go from this to failure and abandonment? Why did anyone let go of the beauty of our temples and replace them with buildings that look like cheap fundamentalist churches? No wonder no one is impressed with our craft anymore. We are no longer operative masons.

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  5. It's never a good thing when we lose a Masonic building, especially a beautiful one from what I call the "golden era of American fraternalism."

    But let's remember that a lodge is not a building. A lodge is a certain number of Masons. It is an institution, made up not of wood and bricks and stone and concrete, but of MEN. It's sad to see a lodge go dark or a building be shuddered but sometimes you have to prune some limbs from the tree to let the tree thrive. Freemasonry, notwithstanding, still survives!

    Dave Brown

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    1. I think some Masons get the wrong impression of my thinking when I post stories like this. Of course a lodge is not a building. Of course Masons can meet in a damn pup tent for all I care, if that is their desire.

      But.

      The visionary and optimistic brethren who came before us dreamed much greater dreams than we do today, and they actually sacrificed much to bring those dreams to life - whether that was by establishing new, frontier lodges and grand lodges, or creating whole new appendant bodies and degree systems that expanded knowledge, or when they started to build great charities from the ground up.

      They dreamed big with their own lodges, as well. When they built landmark buildings that were bold, impressive, distinctive, and even magnificent - whether they were as massive as our greatest downtown Temple buildings, or smaller ones like this one in Little Falls - they were making a statement to themselves and to the profane world. They were the Freemasons, the BEST of the best of men in their communities. And they treated themselves accordingly. THEY believed it about themselves, and they wanted to make damn sure everyone else in town believed it, too. So, they didn't build lodge halls or meeting rooms. They built Temples. Similarly, the Scottish Rite didn't build theaters, they built Cathedrals.

      What's more is that, while they expected us to outdo even their achievements after they were gone, they presumed that the very least WE would do is maintain what they built for us. They did the heavy lifting and bore the enormous burden of constructing these Temples for us. Yet we can't even manage to fix the roofs or replace the boilers. Or even keep them at all.

      So yeah, I find that terribly sad and I will keep posting these stories, because i know it will keep happening.

      After I posted this article, I looked into the subsequent history of this particular community. I know the major economic base that built, expanded, and sustained Little Falls vanished after the local factories closed or moved away. So, their Masonic lodge simply had no choice but to close, too. Circumstances forced them to lose their beautiful and distinctive Temple. And that's very different from a lodge that voluntarily throws their landmark Temple away. So my initial headline was a bit misleading in retrospect. Little Falls didn't toss their Temple, and I suspect it was a terrible and emotional day when they took the charter off the wall and locked the door for the last time.

      Thankfully, someone DID save and preserve it, and now that he is selling it himself, the listing has generated huge response from the general public and potential buyers. So it will still stand, and it will go on telling anyone who knows what they're looking at that the Masons were there in Little Falls once upon a time, and dreamed great dreams, and actually brought their dreams to life.

      Delete

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