Masonic Buildings – Making the most of what you’ve got...
From Damien of Devotion
Masonic Author Chris Hodapp is best known for writing the book Freemasons For Dummies. Chris has a regularly updated blog and recently posted;
Do you have a Masonic Temple that is outwardly unremarkable, that thousands of cars drive past every day without knowing it's there?
I learned this in film school: lighting is everything.
So many lodges over the years have given up their former (and usually grander, or at least more distinctive) temple buildings, and moved into pole barns or other far simpler structures that, unfortunately, just seem to fade into the surrounding landscape.
This lodge either deliberately or accidentally came up with a simple bit of yard art combined with a single light that makes this otherwise plain wall jump out and announce that the local Masons inside are alive and well. You sure can't miss it.
The photograph makes a simple but effective point – we can often do inexpensive but inventive things to make our buildings more noticeable, attractive and eye caching. We’ve spoken about lighting the front of our Centre at Gipps St for a few years to draw the eye to it and help put Freemasonry on the map, and the above has inspired me to revisit this issue. People do notice us – indeed our building was recently mentioned on national radio...
In June 2014, well known media personality Red Symons spoke to our Grand Master MWMBro Hillel Benedykt on the radio about Dallas Brooks Hall. I’d missed that one, but knew of another in late March 2016 where Red telephoned our MWGM and referred to our own Gipps Street; “It does not look that active to me” says Red and the MWGM responds well, explaining how the building is used by all sorts of groups. Just one of the many ways Freemasons support Victorians.
At Gipps Street, we’ve installed (unlit) signage encouraging potential hirers and people interested in Freemasonry to contact us – that’s resulted in new Freemasons and new hirer revenue. The cost and effort was small, but that’s proved a sound investment. While we’ve been spending heavily inside with items like A/C and painting, besides promptly painting over or removing graffiti visible from the street, painting our fence and external doors and trying to keep the outside of the building tidy, we’ve done little to the to improve the street appeal of our centre. They say First Impressions Count; it’s time to apply that to our Centre...
Unfortunately over the last two years, the external paintwork on Gipps St has been deteriorating. This is not sending a good message to those who pass by and we need to reflect the pride of owning a historic landmark by keeping its external paintwork tidy. We are currently quoting external painting works to freshen up the exterior of our building; it is amazing how long that paintwork has endured but how quickly it’s started to show age.
Fresh eyes are often good on a building. When I inspected the Ringwood Masonic Centre with the view of trying to increase revenue there, I was directed to the South. My imagination noticed a carpeted training room where others saw an assembly area outside the door of the lodge. That small area is now a major source of revenue. Fresh eyes (and ACTION!) led to a positive result. We need determination and good ideas; not defeatism or complacency – that leads to our buildings being shabby and leads to them being sold.
What would Red score you’re the outside of your Masonic Building? He doesn’t seem to score Gipps Street well. Let’s change that by making our next project external painting.
Chris Hodapp’s Blog regularly posts local and international Masonic news and information of interest and his blog can be found here