Volume LVMay 2008Number 2

Masonic Temple Restoration Update

View of external damage

Photos by Bro. Dennis Buttleman

From across the street, the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia looks like an architectural wonder, boasting meticulous detail and beauty. But if you have the opportunity to examine the structure upclose, some areas of the building have 30+ coats of paint, dulling the crispness of detail that its builders labored to perfect 133 years ago. Years of pollution and weather have taken their toll, rotting window sills and fracturing the stone edifice.

Fortunately, a plan is in place and a resolution is in action.

A scientific analysis was conducted of the massive roof, which identified the use of vermiculite blocks underneath for insulation purposes, the removal of which would be expensive. Since the lifespan of the roof was determined to be quite good, through the professional services of J.J. Deluca Company, Inc., it has been decided that in lieu of replacing the entire roof, a more practical and efficient alternative will be utilized to patch and repair the roof where needed and apply a clear coat to protect it for decades to come.

The restoration and cleaning of the building will include the grinding of every stone and re-grouting to reproduce a brilliant facade. Some of the windows will need to be replaced, many of which are 5/8" thick for acoustical and insulation purposes.

Throughout the process, DPK & A Architects, LLP, a firm of architects, restoration specialists and planners, is reviewing the project to ensure that all is done correctly from a historical perspective.

"I'm absolutely amazed at how compelling this building is, and at the volume of care and attention being paid to this prestigious project," Grand Master Stephen Gardner said. "I am so grateful for the many concerted efforts to restore our Temple back to the grandeur that it once was. I'm proud to have had the chance to be a part of the team that made the decision to restore this building and to see it evolve through its life cycle. It was the right decision to move forward now."

The $8-$10 million project is moving along on schedule and if all goes well, the scaffolding could be removed from the building by September or October. In the meantime, the building is still open for meetings, tours and visits to the library and museum.

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