august 31, 2023
letter to the community
We hope you’re enjoying the end of summer! We thought we would send a note to those of you who have shown interest in The Masonic Project to let you know what all the news is so far.
Together with our small team of four, along with local consultants and contractors, we are working on “phase 1” of the project. Below we have included some of what this entails.
During the Spring, we took an important early step to keep the extensive, multi-year renovation project moving by submitting a proposal to the City of St. John’s Built Experts Heritage Panel. They have completed a preliminary review, mainly focused on our proposed extensions to the exterior of the building, which includes an elevator.
The Panel provided comments and feedback, and will eventually make a recommendation to Council that will determine if we can continue the process with the current plans. So far, things are moving in the right direction, it seems.
This step gives us the basis of what’s possible. What you can see in the proposal, which is public record, is the level of information and detail we have right now, and we have not yet moved into the specifics of future offerings. What we do know is they will be community-informed, and our programs, including food and beverage, will celebrate local people (past and present), businesses and products.
On August 8th, phase 1 demolition for The Masonic began. This scope includes the careful removal, packaging, and offsite storage of many historically significant interior building features and artifacts, as we hope to re-use these to integrate into the building renovation and refurbishment.
Once phase 1 demolition is complete, work will continue with structural assessment and remediation planning. This will be a three-month process wrapping up in the Fall, and will help determine next steps. Given the extent and nature of the work required in the renewal project, to keep our community and visitors safe, the property is now deemed a construction site and closed to the public, and is monitored throughout the night.
We anticipate that working through consultative and permitting processes will take until the end of this year.
As part of the community engagement process mentioned above, we are planning a two-day session in November that will bring together the arts community and its stakeholders to inform the programming and design of The Masonic and more broadly, create a conversation for Newfoundland and Labrador’s arts and culture community to share where they are and where they want to go for generations to come. We have assembled a group of arts and community leaders that are helping us design the event. Stay tuned for more on that!
And finally, we recently launched a website for The Masonic. This is where you will find project information, stories we uncover through the renovation, and news or events. Take a scroll at themasonic.ca, and check back often for the latest updates.
If you have questions for us, any Masonic stories to share, or ideas or recommendations to offer, please reach out! All of our contact information can be found here: themasonic.ca/contact.
We are looking forward to preserving and cherishing this St. John’s icon and heritage structure.
Morgan and Duncan MacRae