May 21, 2024


Elegant home interior

With renovation deemed too expensive, historic Des Moines Masonic setting up set to be demolished

DES MOINES — A palatial creating overlooking the water in Des Moines, the Landmark on the Audio served for decades as a retirement dwelling for Freemasons. In its remaining years of use, the Masonic developing turned an celebration venue exactly where partners exchanged vows less than ornate chandeliers.

Now, the composition that resembles a stately outdated hotel awaits demolition: When unique strategies continue to be unclear, the house was sold last 12 months and demolition permits have been submitted.

Created in 1926, the 1,319,850-square-foot campus on Maritime Watch Generate South needed upgrades to its electrical, mechanical and plumbing units, as very well as renovations for seismic security, all of which were being charge-prohibitive for the Freemasons. Needed upgrades had been believed to cost about $40 million, reported Clint Brown Jr, grand secretary of Masons in Washington.

Nowadays, graffiti is plastered on the entrance pillars, and a safety fence wrapped in ivy helps prevent visitors from getting into the grounds.

“The building, though in disrepair, is an iconic architectural symbol in our Town and location,” reported Susan Cezar, Main Strategic Officer of the City of Des Moines.

Its historical past

The world’s oldest and premier fraternal business, Freemasonry originally commenced as a guild for stonemasons during the Middle Ages in Europe and ongoing as a social team. Today, Masons are often regarded for their signature lodges, which arrived at a heyday in building between 1900 and 1940, according to the Masons in Washington.

But the Landmark on the Sound was distinctive. Whilst most of the state’s Masonic buildings were built as lodges, the Des Moines structure was the second-oldest retirement property for Freemasons in Washington, subsequent the to start with 1 built in Puyallup. There are at the moment 157 Masonic lodges in Washington, claimed Brown, and in excess of 100 of those are still owned by Masons. Some buildings host various lodges, or Masonic groups.   

At the Landmark on the Audio, people of the retirement household would assign all of their assets to the Freemasons in exchange for lifelong treatment. The last particular person on these kinds of a approach was cared for until her demise quite a few weeks back, mentioned Chris Coffman, grand grasp of Masons in Washington. A different alternative for people included month to month rental payments. When the retirement residence was closed in 2006 for the reason that of its out-of-date services —  for illustration, the major elevator could not match a stretcher if clinical help was essential — the remaining citizens ended up placed in other housing.

“A lot of people today experienced close emotional ties [to it],” reported Coffman. He lately received a letter from the daughter of two people of the retirement household who shared how a lot she relished browsing the making. Just after the final resident left the retirement property, it served as an party middle for a number of years, and has sat vacant for all around a ten years. “One of the hardest things we had to do was to market it,” Coffman additional.

The Freemasons bought the house in August 2019 to EPC Holdings LLC for $11.5 million, and it’s now owned by Zenith Properties LLC. The building is not now stated as a King County, state or national landmark, according to Cezar from the Metropolis of Des Moines, and it was bought without any pushback from nearby people.

The Masons submitted an application for a demolition allow in July 2019 as portion of the sale. The town is at this time waiting for extra materials from the present entrepreneurs after they resubmitted the demolition allow software in September 2020.  

A next move of the method will involve an environmental assessment by the city under the Condition Environmental Coverage Act. “This property is essential in the Des Moines local community,” explained Cezar, including that govt businesses and nearby inhabitants will have an prospect to share community remarks as portion of the assessment approach.

Whilst many Masonic properties are being remodeled through the nation — some even turning into film theaters, this kind of as the SIFF Cinema Egyptian Theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and the Ark Lodge Cinemas in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood — Coffman claimed that most of Washington’s buildings keep on being in excellent issue. Quite a few of the Masonic structures proceed to serve their first objective as meeting places for the organization, and some areas of the properties are rented out to churches or shops to help defray prices.

Although they have not finalized the particulars of their strategies, the latest assets entrepreneurs have expressed desire in continuing its legacy as a position for men and women to come alongside one another.

 “Zenith Homes is at present functioning with the Metropolis on what will make perception and what the option may perhaps be, 1 of which would be to create a living asset in the community for generations to occur,” claimed a spokesperson for Zenith Homes. “We are searching forward to performing alongside one another with the Metropolis on making a extraordinary area.”