DES MOINES — A palatial developing overlooking the water in Des Moines, the Landmark on the Seem served for a long time as a retirement home for Freemasons. In its final several years of use, the Masonic building grew to become an function location where by couples exchanged vows under ornate chandeliers.
Now, the construction that resembles a stately outdated lodge awaits demolition: While certain strategies continue being unclear, the assets was marketed very last 12 months and demolition permits have been submitted.
Designed in 1926, the 1,319,850-sq.-foot campus on Marine See Generate South needed updates to its electrical, mechanical and plumbing units, as very well as renovations for seismic safety, all of which were being price-prohibitive for the Freemasons. Necessary upgrades ended up approximated to value about $40 million, reported Clint Brown Jr, grand secretary of Masons in Washington.
Today, graffiti is plastered on the entrance pillars, and a safety fence wrapped in ivy helps prevent website visitors from moving into the grounds.
“The constructing, while in disrepair, is an iconic architectural image in our City and area,” stated Susan Cezar, Main Strategic Officer of the Metropolis of Des Moines.
The world’s oldest and most significant fraternal business, Freemasonry originally commenced as a guild for stonemasons in the course of the Center Ages in Europe and continued as a social group. Today, Masons are often recognized for their signature lodges, which arrived at a heyday in development among 1900 and 1940, according to the Masons in Washington.
But the Landmark on the Seem was special. Although most of the state’s Masonic buildings were being designed as lodges, the Des Moines framework was the 2nd-oldest retirement residence for Freemasons in Washington, subsequent the to start with a single made in Puyallup. There are at the moment 157 Masonic lodges in Washington, claimed Brown, and above 100 of individuals are nonetheless owned by Masons. Some structures host a number of lodges, or Masonic groups.
At the Landmark on the Sound, citizens of the retirement home would assign all of their home to the Freemasons in trade for lifelong treatment. The past individual on these a strategy was cared for right until her death many months ago, explained Chris Coffman, grand master of Masons in Washington. One more option for inhabitants involved regular monthly rental payments. When the retirement household was shut in 2006 because of its out-of-date services — for case in point, the primary elevator could not in good shape a stretcher if health care aid was required — the remaining residents had been placed in other housing.
“A good deal of folks had near emotional ties [to it],” claimed Coffman. He lately received a letter from the daughter of two citizens of the retirement residence who shared how substantially she relished visiting the developing. Just after the previous resident still left the retirement property, it served as an event heart for many years, and has sat vacant for around a ten years. “One of the most difficult issues we experienced to do was to sell it,” Coffman included.
The Freemasons bought the property in August 2019 to EPC Holdings LLC for $11.5 million, and it’s now owned by Zenith Properties LLC. The developing is not at present shown as a King County, condition or nationwide landmark, in accordance to Cezar from the City of Des Moines, and it was bought with no any pushback from nearby citizens.
The Masons submitted an software for a demolition permit in July 2019 as component of the sale. The metropolis is now ready for additional supplies from the existing entrepreneurs immediately after they resubmitted the demolition permit application in September 2020.
A up coming action of the system will involve an environmental evaluate by the town under the Point out Environmental Coverage Act. “This residence is essential in the Des Moines neighborhood,” said Cezar, adding that federal government businesses and area inhabitants will have an chance to share public remarks as element of the assessment course of action.
Even though several Masonic structures are currently being transformed in the course of the place — some even turning into movie theaters, this kind of as the SIFF Cinema Egyptian Theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and the Ark Lodge Cinemas in Seattle’s Columbia Metropolis community — Coffman mentioned that most of Washington’s buildings remain in good issue. Numerous of the Masonic structures keep on to provide their unique function as assembly places for the firm, and some pieces of the properties are rented out to church buildings or shops to assistance defray fees.
Even though they have not finalized the facts of their plans, the present-day home homeowners have expressed desire in continuing its legacy as a place for persons to arrive jointly.
“Zenith Attributes is at present performing with the Town on what would make feeling and what the chance may perhaps be, a single of which would be to create a dwelling asset in the neighborhood for generations to arrive,” claimed a spokesperson for Zenith Properties. “We are searching forward to functioning together with the Metropolis on building a exceptional place.”