Moving ahead

Masonic Temple, 240 Washington St. in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — With the project sitting idle for months, work will resume this summer on restoring the exterior of the historic Masonic Temple building on Washington Street.

The owners will focus on two big projects — restoring the front portico and installing an elevator in the landmark at 242 Washington St.

Work also will include repairing the soffit, the overhang near the roof that’s now covered by netting to prevent pieces of the building to fall from above.

The project has been stalled while owners Augusta Withington and Robert J. Campany, who co-own Fourth Coast Inc., a renewable energy company in Clayton, figure out how to go about completing the exterior work.

“You’re going to see some activity there this summer,” Mr. Campany said,

For months, orange scaffolding has surrounded one of the six fluted Doric columns on the front of the Greek Neoclassical style building after workers carefully removed its outer layer last year.

The owners are working with the state Historic Preservation Office, or SHIPO, on finalizing the drawings for the project. They’re also looking at what type of material should be used to restore the columns at the front of the building, he said.

Last week, Mr. Campany met with Carolyn Meunier, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, and City Engineer Michael DeLaney about the project. Fourth Coast officials wanted to get feedback on plans to possibly install the elevator within the building’s footprint.

Mrs. Meunier said she’s excited about the project. “I think it’s a beautiful building,” she said. “I think it’s great they’re going to be working on it.”

The project was one of the recipients of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative program. The Masonic Temple was awarded $2.2 million in DRI funding and $500,000 each in the state’s Restore NY and Consolidated Funding Application programs.

While the facade work will resume this summer, Mr. Campany stressed that the $10 million to turn the building into multiuse performance and event venue is a “multiyear” project.

Plans also call for turning the basement into some kind of food business and possibly creating loft apartments in the former gym on the third floor. The first floor has professional offices, with The Tunes 92.5 FM WBLH radio station and a handful of other tenants now occupying space on the main floor.

He would not speculate how long it will take to complete the entire project, saying it will depend on the availability of additional funding.

State DRI folks have not been pressuring Fourth Coast to get the Masonic Temple project done, Mr. Campany said.

“I think everyone is anxious for it to begin,” said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director.

The Masonic Temple is one of 10 DRI projects getting funding. The projects are in varying stages of planning to completion.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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