And another one gone.
The former Aurora, Illinois Masonic Temple was destroyed by fire last night. It has been empty since 2006. The cause of the fire is unknown.
From the NBC affiliate in Chicago:
Crews continued to battle the massive fire into Tuesday morning. Officials said the ceiling caved in on the five-story structure overnight and it remained unknown as of early Tuesday which portions of the building, if any, would be salvageable.
The blaze rendered the temple structurally unstable, Aurora Fire Chief Gary Krienitz said at the scene early Tuesday. Krienitz added that the temple's roof and part of the facade had already collapsed, and that the entire area was blocked off out of fear that the walls could come down as well.
He also said that debris from the blaze hit an electrical line, forcing ComEd to shut off power in the area and causing a small outage.
No injuries were reported in the fire, officials said, but five homes in the area were evacuated. Fire officials said crews will likely remain on the scene all day Tuesday, with the focus on securing the area and getting people back into their homes safely.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
But in less than 60 years the neighborhood shifted, membership dwindled, and it was fled by the Masons, like so many other giant Masonic temples in and around Chicago. The Aurora Temple became a banquet center in the 1980s, but has been totally abandoned since about 2006. Local attempts at restoration and reuse had been made over the years, but to no avail.
Now all that remains of the once proud Masonic presence is a burned out shell.
Preserve and protect what we still have, Brethren. We will never build their equals again.
H/T Scott Dueball
UPDATE: A drone flyover video of the burned out temple has been uploaded to Youtube.