Money from City of Nanaimo helps spruce up historic mason temple

Ashlar Lodge Masonic Temple on Commercial Street will get a $30K makeover this year

Nanaimo Freemasons will freshen up the historic Ashlar Lodge Masonic Temple downtown in time for their anniversary this spring, with help from the city’s heritage facade grant.

For more than half of the masons’ 150-year history in the Harbour City, members have met in the brick temple, a 94-year-old Commercial Street building that’s landed on the city’s heritage register and the Canadian register of historic places. It’s now slated for a $30,000 makeover as the masons celebrate 150 years of being in Nanaimo.

The city will chip in half of the refurbishment cost.

Since 2003, 32 projects have received the grant. More than $300,000 has been put into the program by the city with $7 million in private money leveraged. Sholberg said it’s one of the few ways under the Local Government Act that the city can provide public assistance to private interests and a benefit is our collective history is maintained and conserved.

“We kind of see the exteriors of these heritage buildings as a public good and therefore warranting assistance where we can provide it to help the owners conserve and ensure that the building presents the best appearance possible,” he said.

The masons’ temple was built in 1923 in the footprint of its original building, which had been constructed in 1873.

Tim Findlay, worshipful master of the lodge, said they are looking to get the building spruced up for their 150th anniversary. The first meeting in Nanaimo was in May, 1867. Work will include window, door and brick repair, and paint.

“The building is gifted to us, the masons of today from generations of Freemasons that have gone before us. So it’s part of our responsibility both as a community as well as to our group to maintain … what we’ve been gifted from the past,” Findlay said.

Mark Anderson, lodge historian, said the grant is great.

“Given that it’s such a historic building in Nanaimo and such a prominent building in downtown Nanaimo, I think it’s really great that the city has contributed this grant to help us refurbish the exterior of the building and we really thank the City of Nanaimo for it,” he said.

To learn more about the building history and Ashlar Lodge No. 3, please visit www.ashlar3.com/.