by Christopher Hodapp
Mankato Lodge 12 in Mankato, Minnesota has just completed a major remodeling project, funded partially with a $25,000 grant from the city, plus matching funds from the building's tenant organizations. The local Masons wanted to improve their own spaces in the building, but also make their historic Masonic Hall attractive as a venue for local weddings, social and business meetings, and other events. They've officially rechristened the temple as Historic Masonic Hall.
Built in 1856, it is reported to be the oldest standing building in Mankato.
According to an article in The Free Press by Michael Lagerquist, the lodge currently has 110 members. They share their temple with an Order of the Eastern Star chapter and a Job's Daughters chapter.
The hand-painted cloud image over the lodge room had long been in deteriorating condition. Because of roof leaks over the years, the dome had to be repaired first. Artist Wendy Waszut-Barrett from Historic Stage Services was brought in to touch up the mural in spots affected by the repairs. She specializes in the restoration and recreation of scenery for historic theaters, and has been hired by several Scottish Rite valleys all over the country to repair or restore their many elaborate stage backdrops used in their many degrees.
Mankato Lodge 12 was chartered in 1856, two years before Minnesota statehood was achieved.