Havre Daily News
The future of the downtown Masonic Temple Building is uncertain. Plumbing and heating problems and a shrinking tenant base have the Havre Masons hoping for a business proposal that can help keep the building open.
Sound familiar? Havre lodge board member Terry Grant said today the situation is similar to that of the Heritage Center.
The city recently sold that downtown landmark because it could not afford to pay to fix the roof and boilers and the building was operating at a deficit. Todd Hanson and Erica McKeon-Hanson purchased the building and have plans for a microbrew pub and restaurant as well as business and banquet space. It will also house an art gallery.
"We're trying to see what we can do to bring the building around and what it's going to cost," Grant said of the Masonic Temple Building. He said the Masons would be open to a multi-use proposal like the one the Hansons developed for the Heritage Center.
"We're going to need some major funding, some people with some ideas for the use of the building, some people who would like to work with us," Grant said.
The Havre Masons recently learned that the building is losing two of its tenants. Altec Graphics has changed hands and locations, and a lawyer who has an office in the building also is moving, Grant said.
That news was coincidental with mounting problems. The boilers, the plumbing and the elevator each need work, he said.
The Masons will look into the possibility of renovating the building themselves, but Grant said they haven't seen any estimates yet.
"It's an old building and it needs some TLC," Grant said.
A letter recently went out to the roughly 150 members of Havre Lodge No. 55, notifying them of the situation.
Several years ago there was a plan to use some of the building for apartment rental, but the plan fell through, Grant said.
One problem for any business venture is a shortage of parking in the area, Grant said. Also, if the Masons keep the building, they will only be willing to lease out the bottom few floors. Floors four and five are used for lodge functions.
"That makes that a tough shot," he said. "Right now we're open to suggestions."
The Masons have considered the possibility of selling the building and moving, but are hoping that can be avoided.
"It would mean we would have to relocate," he said. "We'd rather exhaust our avenues first. We have tenants who are in there and we don't want them to lose their homes."
Altec Graphics was sold to Renee Rolf and is operating behind Sheer Excitement on Seventh Street. Employee Esther Conder said the business has otherwise not changed.
In other downtown business news, the pharmacy in Western Drug & Variety has left the Atrium annex building, said Office Equipment owner Garrett Edmonds. His wife, Terah Edmonds, recently purchased the building, which houses Office Equipment and the variety store, he said.
Western Drug Pharmacy reopened today after moving to 123 Fifth Ave., said owner Kelcey Diemert.
He and his wife and co-owner, Nancy Diemert, decided to move the pharmacy so they could have a drive-through window, he said.
Richard Hanson of Western Drug & Variety declined to comment today about his future plans for the business.