"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Covington, KY Scottish Rite Building On The Block


We are murderers of our own posterity.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Covington, Kentucky Scottish Rite Vallet, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Friend and Brother S. Brent Morris was in town speaking, and it gave me an excuse to see a terrific presentation, as well as a beautiful Masonic building.

Looks like I went just in time.

Originally built in 1956 at the height of Freemasonry's U.S. popularity, the building is now considered by its members to be too big, and too expensive. It has no parking of its own. And it's not in the best or most convenient part of town anymore. Haven't we all heard this before.

So, the members have put the building—once the Scottish Rite home of KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders—up for sale in the most challenging real estate market since WWII began. The reason cited is to construct a new building half its size, which will give them a Rite Care facility cheaper than modifying the existing center. Covington's secretary Fred Bryant says it's not because of membership losses, that they are staying steady at 2,500, with about 100 attending convocations twice a year.

The center has a beautiful 700-seat auditorium, two lodge rooms and a dining hall. Its magnificent entry is flanked by two stone sphinxes. Its welcoming foyer and other architectural details can never be equalled in a new, more "economical" building.

Already the price has been dropped.

I don't know their situation in Covington, so I'm speaking out of class here. But how I wish we would be more innovative and less inclined to pitch our heritage overboard when the roof starts leaking or the place needs re-plumbing. Our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed to build these temples. No, Freemasonry isn't its buildings—but these buildings are a part of us, of what we were and are, and should still be a source of pride and service to the members and the community.

They didn't ask us to build better than they did. They simply expected us to just maintain them and pass them on to the next generation. It's the least we can do.

See Covington landmark for sale by Jeff McKinney at Cincinnati.com

4 comments:

  1. I absolutely agree. As a young Mason (23 years old, MM for less than a year) it saddens me to see an older generation giving up on decades of work to build up the fraternity. Yes, times are hard, but shouldn't we all tighten our belts and sacrifice a little bit? It seems that we're giving away what little we have for reasons of convenience.

    Will there be any monumental Scottish Rite temples around when I petition years from now? Masonic buildings are some of the few examples of beautiful architecture left in the US. It's a shame we don't value them more.

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  2. My Great Grandfather, Gordon Augustus Willis, was a 33rd Degree, Scottish Rite FreeMason, who attended this lodge. He was the head city engineer of Covington, KY and passed away in 1987. If you Google him, you can find pictures of him real easy. WHen I found some young pictures of him, I found out that I'm a spitting image.

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  3. I understand that this post is quite old but, I would like to update it. It the years past since this blog was published i can tell alot of things have changed. We decided to not sell the building and I can tell you that in the last 5 to 6 years, we have actual started to rebound. There are 3 blue lodges that now meet in this building as well as the Scottish Rite, York Rite, and also the Order of the Eastern Star. It still stands as a Masonic hub of Northern Kentucky. As it stands it is still large and expensive but, we have all tightened our boot straps and not only accomplished to keep the lodge building but, also renovate it. we have installed a new elevator, installed all new seats and tables in the dining halls, painted and repaired the walls in the dining halls, and also re carpeted not only both lodge rooms but, also the 700 seat amphitheater. We are on an uptick and we dont see and stopping

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    Replies
    1. So glad the building has been kept in the organization. When I was very young, my grandmother would take me to help setup for OES (Rosebud Chapter) meetings. My father was a member of the Latonia Lodge and I attending many Job Daughter activities in the temple.

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