BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Masonic Lodge received permitting to renovate its future lodge at 1378 State Highway 102 earlier this month. Renovations, according to permits, are estimated to cost $40,000.
Members decided in 2016 to put the old Masonic Lodge building at 18 High St. up for sale. The new owners have converted it into condominiums. The sale was finalized and the purchase of the new building happened around the same time last spring, according to lodge member Earl Brechlin.
Brechlin said furniture maker Rick Bradbury occupied the building prior to the masons. Bradbury has moved his shop into a different building on the same property, further back on the lot.
Renovations will include sheetrock repairs, trimming the doors and windows, and insulation for soundproofing. Brechlin said these renovations are necessary because all Masonic lodges have the same general floor plan.
“It was just a big room that held woodworking machines,” Brechlin said. “We’re turning it into one with carpeting and leather back chairs.”
He said the exterior of the building will not be changed, and there are no further plans for the building past the renovations. Bar Harbor-based contractor Mattworks will do the work.
The lodge said in a statement that it plans to conduct regular weekday, evening and special meetings with attendance ranging from six to 18 people. Brechlin said the lodge does not plan to rent the space to outside groups, as some other lodges do.
The lodge is operating under the eleemosynary — dependent on charity or charitable — land use. This use is permitted in the Town Hill Business district. The Planning Board here approved a change of use for the building on Jan. 3.
Masonic lodges cannot themselves own property. But masons here formed the Bar Harbor Masonic Building Association to buy the property and rent it to the lodge.
Brechlin said that there are around 50,000 Masons in Maine.