Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Boston.com is reporting that the Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction is selling its headquarters compound to the city of Lexington, Massachusetts for approximately $11 million. The Rite will move into space at the adjacent National Heritage Museum (which is NOT being sold).


Lexington officials announced last week that the town is purchasing the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry organization’s headquarters, after the fraternal group accepted its offer of almost $11 million. 
The Marrett Road property will be used for a community center. The agreement on the sale price was announced Tuesday night after months of negotiations, and after Town Meeting voted Monday night to appropriate the money. 
Selectman Peter Kelley said in an announcement on the purchase that it is a historic moment for Lexington, as the town’s 300th anniversary approaches at the end of this month. 
In a roll call vote of 173 to 2, with 6 abstentions, Town Meeting approved appropriating about $11 million and authorized the Board of Selectmen to purchase the property.Selectwoman Deb Mauger told Town Meeting that the Scottish Rite’s governing body would decide the next day whether to accept the town’s offer of $10,950,000 . 
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our future,” Mauger said. 
The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite plans to move into space at its National Heritage Museum, which is next to the 33 Marrett Road headquarters property and is not being sold. The Supreme Council governs the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, which covers 15 states from New England to Wisconsin and Delaware. 
Representatives from the Scottish Rite could not be reached for comment. 
The 10-acre property the town is buying includes the headquarters building, a mansion built in 1905, and a carriage house. Lexington is considering using the property as a community center that would offer services for the town’s senior citizens and its youth. 
Mauger told Town Meeting members Monday that the town first offered $8 million for the property, but increased the amount twice because of competition from other bidders.

H/T Matt Johnson

10 comments:

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Downsizing continues...

JFS61 said...

Hope this isn't another Chicago in the making.

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Alas, it is only likely to become more and more commonplace over the coming years. I don't see anyone willing to entertain the sort of innovation required to reverse the membership losses. Stop gap measures will not suffice.

George William Pursley said...

Flexibility and willingness to restructure are arguably more important than maintaining post WWII numbers for the fraternity. The Valley of Columbus has stayed very active and vital since selling the old 4th Street Scottish Rite building in Columbus Ohio a few years back. And I hope the NMJ sale does provide the necessary space to enable expanded activities for the Village of Lexington.

David Gurzynski said...

This may not be such a bad thing. IMHO it was the feverish expansion of the Craft in the 40's and 50's that really was the unusual aspect of things. Our brethren should have realized that the fever could not continue unabated. The "irrational exuberance" of our past brethren has left us with edifices, and institutions which can no longer be supported. The tough decisions we have to make is to judge which are necessary to the Craft and which may be jettisoned.

Devils Advocate said...

Brother Ballard,

What is your suggested innovation to reverse the membership losses?

David Wise

Thomas Johnson said...

Just a couple of ideas,

1. Every Military Base in the United States should have a working Military Masonic lodge on it's premises located in walking distance to the Post Chapel.

2. Every Masonic Jurisdiction in the United States should allow the existence of Special-Interest Lodges.

Number one requires the permission of the Military Post Commander.

The rationale for Number Two is beautifully explained in a Freemasonry Today article on The Morgan Lodge#9816.

MP said...

Do we NEED to reverse the membership losses, or, more specifically, do we need to scramble to get back to the great levels we attained prior to the Morgan affair, Post WW-I, Post WWII?

Or, should we recognize those as statistical anomalies, and prepare for lean times, and recognize that a Lodge is not a building, it is a certain number of men ... we met, legend tells us, on high hills or in deep valleys ... history tells us we used to meet in taverns.

Why do we need every Lodge to have its own building?

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Dear Bro. Devil,

My first recommendation would be that Freemasonry look at ways that as an institution it can not merely update the way it presents its message, but evaluate what it actually offers. Over the years, Freemasonry has "dumbed down" by reducing its intellectualism, reducing its connection to spiritual search, and became more and more a reflection on one hand of secular society, a source for entertainment and an old boy's club, and on the other hand, an organization which closely adhered to the narrowest expression of American notions of religion and spirituality. Those strategies ultimately have failed because society has changed. Freemasonry needs to do some REAL soul searching and figure out how it can change to meet the needs and interests of potential new masons. It has changed before, and it is time for it to do so again. I think "mainstream" Freemasonry needs to really think about becoming a lot more flexible, and get out in front of social change rather than standing in the background with its heels dug into the dirt.

Thomas Johnson said...

I agree, Bro MP, we should "prepare for lean times." And no, every Lodge does not need it's own building nor do they all have one.

Around 1995, I visited MacArthur Lodge#183 (it still exists) which works in Seoul, South Korea, since 1964, and is charted under the MW Grand Lodge of the Philippines. The wonderful meeting was held in a rented portion of one of the buildings on the U.S. Army Garrison, Yongsan. I think the Lodge still meets this way.

Masonic owned buildings can give Masons a sense of security, pride, independence, and an outward symbol of our teachings which we may leave to posterity. But yeah, we can survive without them.