The sounds of jackhammers, drills, saws and occasional broken water pipe are ringing through the Temple this summer, as many projects are underway.
On the ground floor, the Masonic Home Foundation is making a huge investment in the future of Freemasons' Hall and is undergoing a complete renovation of their office space. The former Grand Lodge Library room that had been used for many years as GL storage was outgrown, and GL records have been moved upstairs. The Home Foundation is expanding into this space and is creating a beautiful new conference room. When complete, the Foundation has offered to make the new, air conditioned meeting space available to other groups if it is not being used for their own meetings. Many thanks to the MHF for their confidence in the future of Indiana Freemasons' Hall! By the way, in case you're looking for the Foundation while the work is being done, they have set up temporary digs at the Scottish Rite Cathedral across the street.
On the second floor, the woefully inadequate rest rooms at the north end of the Banquet Hall are at last being enlarged and transformed into more modern facilities. New plumbing has been roughed in for completely redesigned, handicap-accessible men's and ladies rooms, and we are in the bidding stage now for contractors to finish them, using quality materials and decor that are in keeping with the period feel of the building. More news on this project as it happens.
As new organizations express interest in renting our building, it is vitally important that we bring our Temple into the modern age, with handicapped access for our members and visitors. In keeping with that goal, a new entrance is coming for the south side of the building. The crumbling stairs and obsolete wheelchair lift will soon be replaced by a new concrete ramp and stairs, covered by an awning. In addition, the parking lot on the south side of the Temple will be expanded as much as our limited property line will allow us - perhaps four new spaces. Final drawings have been made, and we are in the bidding process now. We anticipate construction to begin in September.
Work continues to place the Temple on the National List of Historic Places, which will open up a path to grants and other programs that will help us to restore the theater to its original glory, and much more.
Building security will soon be provided by an independent contractor, Securitas. This has been very successful at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and we believe it is vital as more outside groups begin renting the building. Details will be provided soon to all organizations meeting in the building.
As lodges return to the building at the end of summer, many of the lodge rooms will be bathed in new light. We are slowly removing the light-blocking circular pans that were installed decades ago over the original lodge room light fixtures. These aluminum saucers made the lighting more indirect, but swallowed up more than 60% of the illumination. The difference is truly amazing. Many thanks to Brothers Steve Estle and Tim Brinkmeyer for this ongoing project.
Finally, in the coming weeks, we will share with you some of the VERY generous gifts to the Temple from some unexpected sources. For right now, we will simply say that the Board has been surprised by several incredible donations that have come literally out of the blue. Money is starting to come to us from the entire family of Indiana Freemasonry as more and more of our brethren and the appendant groups realize that the future is indeed bright at Indiana Freemasons' Hall.
- Chris Hodapp