DES MOINES — A palatial constructing overlooking the drinking water in Des Moines, the Landmark on the Audio served for many years as a retirement residence for Freemasons. In its remaining years of use, the Masonic creating turned an event venue where by couples exchanged vows less than ornate chandeliers.

Now, the composition that resembles a stately old lodge awaits demolition: Though unique options remain unclear, the assets was bought previous yr and demolition permits have been filed.

Constructed in 1926, the 1,319,850-sq.-foot campus on Marine View Generate South necessary updates to its electrical, mechanical and plumbing programs, as very well as renovations for seismic basic safety, all of which were expense-prohibitive for the Freemasons. Essential upgrades were being believed to expense about $40 million, explained Clint Brown Jr, grand secretary of Masons in Washington.

These days, graffiti is plastered on the entrance pillars, and a stability fence wrapped in ivy helps prevent guests from coming into the grounds.

“The setting up, even though in disrepair, is an legendary architectural image in our Town and location,” reported Susan Cezar, Main Strategic Officer of the Town of Des Moines.

Its background

The world’s oldest and greatest fraternal group, Freemasonry initially started as a guild for stonemasons for the duration of the Center Ages in Europe and continued as a social group. Nowadays, Masons are typically recognized for their signature lodges, which achieved a heyday in development concerning 1900 and 1940, in accordance to the Masons in Washington.

But the Landmark on the Seem was special. Even though most of the state’s Masonic buildings were built as lodges, the Des Moines framework was the next-oldest retirement property for Freemasons in Washington, next the first just one produced in Puyallup. There are at this time 157 Masonic lodges in Washington, said Brown, and over 100 of those are however owned by Masons. Some buildings host numerous lodges, or Masonic groups.   

At the Landmark on the Audio, inhabitants of the retirement dwelling would assign all of their house to the Freemasons in trade for lifelong treatment. The very last man or woman on this kind of a strategy was cared for until finally her dying several months ago, claimed Chris Coffman, grand learn of Masons in Washington. Another option for residents incorporated month-to-month rental payments. When the retirement dwelling was closed in 2006 mainly because of its outdated amenities —  for example, the principal elevator could not in good shape a stretcher if health care help was needed — the remaining citizens were placed in other housing.

“A ton of persons had near emotional ties [to it],” stated Coffman. He a short while ago obtained a letter from the daughter of two people of the retirement property who shared how substantially she liked browsing the creating. Right after the previous resident left the retirement house, it served as an event middle for various many years, and has sat vacant for about a 10 years. “One of the hardest items we had to do was to offer it,” Coffman included.

The Freemasons bought the home in August 2019 to EPC Holdings LLC for $11.5 million, and it is now owned by Zenith Attributes LLC. The making is not at this time stated as a King County, condition or countrywide landmark, according to Cezar from the Town of Des Moines, and it was sold without any pushback from area citizens.

The Masons submitted an software for a demolition allow in July 2019 as aspect of the sale. The metropolis is at the moment waiting for extra materials from the current owners following they resubmitted the demolition allow software in September 2020.  

A subsequent move of the course of action will involve an environmental review by the city under the Condition Environmental Plan Act. “This property is significant in the Des Moines group,” stated Cezar, introducing that government agencies and neighborhood inhabitants will have an opportunity to share general public remarks as part of the review system.

Although several Masonic structures are currently being reworked throughout the country — some even turning into film theaters, these as the SIFF Cinema Egyptian Theatre in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and the Ark Lodge Cinemas in Seattle’s Columbia Town community — Coffman claimed that most of Washington’s buildings remain in great problem. Quite a few of the Masonic properties keep on to provide their primary reason as meeting destinations for the group, and some elements of the structures are rented out to churches or retailers to help defray charges.

Although they have not finalized the information of their ideas, the current property owners have expressed interest in continuing its legacy as a area for people today to appear with each other.

 “Zenith Attributes is now performing with the City on what can make feeling and what the opportunity may well be, a single of which would be to build a living asset in the group for generations to come,” claimed a spokesperson for Zenith Qualities. “We are hunting ahead to performing alongside one another with the Metropolis on building a outstanding position.”