Calgary

Calgary Freemasons' Hall closure bittersweet for longtime member

An iconic three-storey building in Calgary’s Beltline will soon have new owners and one its members is sentimental but optimistic.

A longtime member bemoans the loss of the iconic Beltline building, but says it won't affect the organization

The Freemasons’ Hall at 330 12 Avenue S.W. in Calgary’s Beltline is up for sale after property tax increases the organization just can't afford. Mason Bill Kirk says it likely won't effect membership. (Nathan Godfrey/CBC)

An iconic three-storey building in Calgary's Beltline will soon have new owners and one of its members is sentimental but optimistic.

"The furniture in this room is well over 100 years old," Bill Kirk told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"It was moved here from other lodges when this temple was built in 1928. It's been in continuous use since that time."

Kirk is speaking fondly of the Freemasons' Hall at 330 12 Avenue S.W. in Calgary's Beltline.

The Calgary Freemasons' Hall in 1940. Today it's surrounded by highrises. (Glenbow Archives)

It's now for sale — for a cool $7.9 million— after recent property tax increases have made it no longer sustainable for the secret society.

The secrecy around Masons isn't that different from other organizations, he says.

"It's a fraternity of men who meet together. It's described as an order which makes good men better. The order is there to assist men in a moral sense and in an ethical sense," Kirk said.

After a few years of property tax increases, the Masons decided to sell their iconic Beltline building in 2019. (Nathan Godfrey/CBC)

"The secrets are a small corner of that enterprise. There are very few things a mason would not be able to tell you, like any other organization."

Freemasons, however, have long been accused of trying to quietly influence public policy.

Calgary Freemasons' Hall celebrates its 15th anniversary on May 12, 1943. (Glenbow Archives)

While the building's sale is a loss, Kirk said in the bigger picture it will not affect Alberta membership.

"The sense of history that I fear is being lost. The Grand Lodge of England as a benchmark in Masonry is almost 400 years old," Kirk said.

Here's a peek inside the Freemasons’ Hall in Calgary. (Nathan Godfrey/CBC)

"This is one step in masonry that is not going to be, not going to have a profound effect on masonry. Masons meet in whatever room they are. They meet as masons. They don't meet as architects. Although there is history and a lot of our own selves in this lodge room, the next lodge room we meet in will be an equally profound experience for any man who joins."

Laying of the cornerstone at the Calgary Freemasons' Hall, Apr. 18, 1928. (Glenbow Archives)

With files from Nathan Godfrey and the Calgary Eyeopener

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