County will not buy Masonic lodge building

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
The historic Greencastle Masonic Lodge at the southeast corner of Washington and Vine streets is no longer under consideration as a possible location for a Putnam County Courthouse annex.
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

The next home of the Putnam County Courthouse Annex will not be the Greencastle Masonic Lodge.

County commissioners had expressed interest in the building as a place to house county offices. The men of Temple Lodge 47 F&AM also sought in recent years to sell the building to the Putnam County Museum.

However, the results of a feasibility study and two appraisals of the 118 E. Washington St. building have commissioners believing that building an entirely new location is the better solution.

The study was conducted by Pyramid Architecture and Engineering.

The cost of buying and renovating the Masonic building would be an estimated $1.8 million. This would include retrofitting the building to accommodate the electrical, telecommunications, HVAC and plumbing needs of an office building.

While the cost of building a new building is higher at an estimated $2.6 million, the commissioners felt that there were certain advantages to such a plan.

One of these is parking. The Masonic Lodge does not have room for on-site parking, and the access to free downtown lots is slightly worse than it is from the Putnam County Courthouse.

On the other hand, the proposed location for a brand new building is the one acre of land the county still owns north of Jones School, the old county annex. Architects estimate that 50 to 60 parking spaces would be available on that lot.

Commissioner Rick Woodall also asked about the possibility of future expansion at a new location, something not available on the existing building. Building a third floor on a new annex that is move-in ready would cost an estimated additional $500,000. Building a third-floor shell that could later be upgraded would be $250,000-$300,000.

One factor the Masonic building had in its favor is location, just over a block from the courthouse.

However, perhaps the biggest factor is that of efficiency and future costs. The architects told the commissioners that a new building would cost an estimate 50 cents per square foot per month to heat and cool. The old building, on the other hand, would cost between $1.25 and $1.50.

Based on these factors, the commissioners voted not to move forward with the Masonic Lodge purchase.

Commissioner Rick Woodall emphasized that there are no plans at this time to move forward with building a new annex.

However, county officials are hopeful to continue planning and saving for the construction of an annex.

View 4 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Wise decision, commissioners. Best bet might be to retain the entire Jones School property, tear down the school, and have plenty of room for ground-floor offices and parking. And it might revitalize the decaying neighborhood around it.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Wed, Aug 29, 2018, at 9:46 AM
  • Please save that acre north of Jones as a recreation area. Many homes in the neighborhood have small yards. I walk my dog past this property several times a day and there are always youth in the area, playing football, soccer, baseball or just playing with their dog. Adam Cohen - is this your district? Please help keep this as an open area.

    -- Posted by bevamiller on Wed, Aug 29, 2018, at 9:08 PM
  • I am shocked by this!! Does the good ole boy rule not apply to the Masonic Lodge like it does everything else the Commissioners waste money on? It is just too bad that when they look at Ambulance Services for the county they don't to an in depth evaluation like they did on the Lodge. OL is costing this county over $400,000 and continue to not show up when you call 911... great job Commissioners. First time they have every been fiscally responsible!!!

    -- Posted by putnamcountyperson on Thu, Aug 30, 2018, at 8:40 AM
  • That is in my ward. However, that piece of green space is maintained by the county. However, you make a very valid point that we need to work to find and maintain green space in that part of the city. If you go back to previous city council meeting notes you will find we are in conversation with the company that developed the Miller School property. Moving forward we (I) need to keep in mind the need for green space in that neighborhood. As always, my cell is 765.721.3168 and my email is cohenadam79 at Yanoo. Com Never hesitate to reach out.

    -- Posted by Adam Cohen on Thu, Aug 30, 2018, at 11:08 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: