Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Zuhrah Shrine to Sell Harrington Mansion

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On November 24th, 2009, the members of Zuhrah Shrine voted to sell the stunning Harrington Mansion, the Minneapolis Shrine Center and its parking lot at 2540 Park Avenue in Minneapolis. The Shriners of Minneapolis have occupied the building since 1929, when it was purchased for $25,000. According to Zuhrah's website, this is less than half the amount of the property taxes paid on the building (date unknown). Not sure what the future holds for Zuhrah Shrine's housing options nor the options of one of its tenants, the extremely successful Minneapolis Lodge #19, but whatever happens is completely undesirable.

This is a sad day not only for the Shrine but Minnesota Masonry in general. I pray that some relief will come to our various non-profit groups, not just the Masons. I just hate seeing beautiful buildings disappear to be used by some land developer with little care for its' sacred or historical significance. This loss will be felt throughout Minnesota and I wish there was a solution to avoid these problems. Masons have built this state but sadly, we are still treated as a forgotten relic, an organization from days gone by. It's not membership, it's not dues, it's not anything but a lack of consciousness by the public at large of what we do and its willingness to let us go.

Perhaps the Fraternity is changing. Perhaps land ownership will not be a part of what makes a Lodge special or important in the community. Maybe Grandma Gilmore is right when she says "a house is just a house", but it would be a real shame if we continued to allow the loss of these buildings when they have been a part of heritage for so long. Solutions need to found to prevent the loss of these great houses dedicated to our Craft.


Christopher Hodapp said...

Wow. I thought Minneapolis Lodge just spent a bunch of money refurbishing the lodge room. Was this a surprise?

Millennial Freemason said...

They did, and put in many hours of work to boot. Still not sure what Lodge #19 can expect as a return on the investment. I was clued in a few days ago, but I was hoping they would try to save the "house." This is really a blow to Minnesota Masonry.


RedTemplar said...

Maybe Lodge 19 will buy Harrington Mansion?

Still Justa Mason said...

It's a shame but, realistically, these buildings have to be sold. Masonic organisations don't have the numbers of old, meaning a lack of income to deal with spiralling, far-above-the rate-of-inflation costs of property ownership in metropolitan areas. Masons either haven't got the money, or won't spend the money, to make up the difference, especially those who wax on that coffee should still cost ten cents a cup like in 1962.
Half of the Masonic Halls in Vancouver have been sold in the last 35 years and are mere memories. Another is still owned by a Masonic building society but is leased to a church and a private school.


Christopher Hodapp said...

I disagree, although it would have been nice if more of our brethren had set up foundations and long-term investments back in the 1960s and 70s to plan for the future, instead of letting them deteriorate. Nevertheless, in order for our temples and other buildings to be saved, we need to assess members, make pleas to them as churches do, get remembered in wills, drop the absurd anti-alcohol rules so many jurisdictions are saddled with, and get to work renting out spaces and making these buildings the centers of our communities again. It takes pros who are dedicated to the task, not part-timers who think maintenance is just throwing a little tar on the roof every ten years. It takes solid, coimmitted business plans. It might even take partnerships with caterers, event planners, etc.

The majority of these places were built at the dawn of the Great Depression, when we didn't have the massive number of members we had in the 1950s and 60s. The brethren who built them lavished their hard-earned money on them because they believed in the fraternity. If we can't build better than they did, why can't we at least maintain what they built for us?

Tom Accuosti said...

Can somebody explain to me again just why we need to tax the members to save old buildings that need to be upgraded for energy efficiency, wiring, plumbing, handicapped access, and things which I'm probably overlooking?

There are thousands of nice buildings all over the US that have "character" simply because labor 100 years ago was cheap. My own lodge has a lot of character.It also has a stone foundation that's been mortared over, wiring that was installed by Thomas Edison, and plumbing that has been patchworked over the last 30 years. I love it, but if the place burned to the ground tomorrow, I would be just as happy rebuilding something more modern on the same spot.

Ted Nelson said...

Not surprised.
Sherburne Lodge 95 in Elk River is up For SALE. Asking price $395,000.

Millennial Freemason said...


Seems really sad to see these buildings sold. I guess there are really two schools of thought about Masonic buildings: 1. the group "Save our History" or 2. Happy Gilmore's grandma, "a house is just a house."


Anonymous said...

What a sad, sad situation there. WHat is the world coming to, when it actually "Makes sense" to sell/lose such an absolute treasure.

Something must be done.
shibboleth brothers & Sisters

Anonymous said...

This has come about for the same reason the United States is in the economic situation it is in. Ulternitive motives of elected officials.