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Archive for Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Town Talk: Church strikes deal to move into vacant Masonic Temple building in Downtown Lawrence

August 1, 2012

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News and notes from around town:

• After nearly nine years of sitting vacant, it appears salvation is on the horizon for the former Masonic Temple building in Downtown Lawrence.

That’s right, a church has struck a deal to occupy the iconic building at the southwest corner of 10th and Massachusetts streets.

The Greenhouse Culture, a church that currently meets each Sunday morning in the banquet space of Maceli’s, is moving into the century-old building that is owned by a development group led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton.

“We’re already in there knocking the dust out of the place,” said Jared Scholz, the church’s pastor.

Scholz said he hopes to start having church services and other events in the building in September. Scholz said the church won’t be undertaking major renovations to the historic building, but rather will be doing minor interior work such as painting and cleaning.

The space lends itself well to a church setting. It already has an ornate wooden balcony, an old Reuter organ and conversation-starting details like a safe on every floor of the building.

Scholz hopes his new church will provide the opportunity for the public to get inside one of the more mysterious buildings in town, which has long been an oddity with its facade that has Egyptian-style pillars at its entrance. (How did they get Egyptian Revival through the Historic Resources Commission?)

“I would sure like to find some of the best pipe organ players in the world to have a few concerts in that building,” Scholz said. “We feel like the building should be a contributing part of the arts in Lawrence. We hope the doors are hardly ever closed.”

Its main purpose, though, will be to serve as a church. According to its Web site, the Christian-based church is affiliated with the Resurrection Life Church International. Scholz said the new building should allow the church to substantially grow its membership, and also expand upon its mission.

“Right now we just rent a space for four hours on a Sunday, but our plans are much bigger than that,” Scholz said.

The new plans officially bring to a close an effort by Lawrence caterer Steve Maceli to lease the building and create a large banquet and wedding reception venue. Maceli had indicated several months ago that a deal to move into the space was all but dead, and recently he has confirmed to me that he is now focusing on ways to expand at his current location at 1031 N.H. That will be worth keeping an eye on, as the 1000 block of New Hampshire has much underutilized space in the Allen Press property.

The church deal also closes the book on a set of incentives the city had offered to help save the building. The city had approved a package including 10 years of partial property tax rebates, but that project was tied specifically to the Maceli’s property. I know some of you may be wondering if the property even will be on the tax rolls at all since it is rented by a church. And I would tell you that if you I think I’m an accountant, you surely must be wanted by the IRS. (In other words, I don’t know.)

What I do know is that it has been a long and interesting journey with the Masonic Temple building. I once was chatting with Doug Compton several years ago about some of his holdings downtown, and he told me he really bought the Masonic Temple with absolutely no plan for what to do with it.

He told me he was concerned the building back in 2003 was going to be bought and converted into one of the largest nightclubs in all of Kansas. Back in 2003, I think the building still fell under the city provision that gave it a grandfathered exemption to the requirement that any new downtown liquor establishment has to do the majority of its business in food sales. The building has been empty long enough now that the exemption has expired.

So, all you Pharaoh lovers, the idea of Kansas’ only Egyptian Revival style night club (perhaps Cleopatra would have served Jell-O shots) is likely dead and gone.

• We’re going to call it a wrap for Town Talk today because I have pig grooming to oversee. Perhaps some of you remember that this has been The Summer of the Pig at the Lawhorn house. My 9-year old son, for the first time, is showing a 4-H pig at the Douglas County Fair. Weigh in happens this morning. (I’m putting the over-under at 307 pounds.) The show is this evening at 6 p.m., if you are a connoisseur of such things. The Douglas County Fair’s livestock auction is set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Fairgrounds. It is a great way to support some local youth. We’ll also see if it is a great way for my wife to buy a certain pig that she has become attached to, which would then roam in our backyard. Please, please, come outbid my wife.

Comments

renrutm 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting development, thanks for the article.

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billloe 1 year, 8 months ago

Just because a church has a different name than what we "educated" individuals think church names should be like are really limit their thinking. I am not a member of the Greenhouse Culture, however, I do know Pastor Jared. He is a gifted musician, loves the community of Lawrence, and just cares about people. Some of you want music? I know Jared will have a lot of music coming out of that building. For those of you that think the last thing Lawrence needs is another church, I think it is exactly what it needs. A cult? Then we better start calling half the churches in the country a cult. The people of the Greenhouse culture are not worshiping Pastor Jared, they are worshiping Jesus Christ. They are what I call "Jesus Freaks." So if that makes them different than everyone else in town then so be it. And yes, they may be out of there in a couple of years - only because that building will no longer be able to hold the number of people in it. Give this church a chance, it can only help, not hurt the community of Lawrence. Praying for the Greenhouse Culture!

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Kirk Larson 1 year, 8 months ago

Too bad. I still think it would be best as a music venue. Take the MA off the front and call it SONIC TEMPLE! I always get a kick out of seeing it in Carnival of Souls.

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pizzapete 1 year, 8 months ago

This is a joke that came to me while having a beer,it's certainly not directed at anyone. A stranger (etc.) walks into a city a week before Halloween and buys all the available candy in every store in the area for $.50 cents a bar. He sets up a tent inside of the downtown area and puts a sign up selling all the candy for $3.00-6.00 a bar. The city decides there's a big problem with this as hardly anyone can afford the price of the candy. The city decides to solve the problem by buying all the candy at $3.00 a bar and giving it away to all the residents. The city, while wasting $3.00 per resident on the candy. reminds everyone to have a happy Halloween and to be thankful for the free candy. OK, maybe not so funny.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

I want to use that building just for once for a burlesque show with Tempest Storm and Dixie Evans and serve chicken noodle dinners in the basement ala Eastern Star style.

Pump up that organ, Toni Allesandrini is on the way!

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jazzttt 1 year, 8 months ago

(Continued) To Ragingbear: I can't remember Lucifer taking part in any of our ceremonies, except for someone to avoid. God, not Lucifer, was the supreme architect of the universe, hence the "G" in the center of the Masonic Tri-square and compass emblem. Ever looked at the back of a $1 bill? Lots of Masonic influences there from the days of the founding fathers.

Not just the stone columns out front are Egyptian-influenced. I believe the sheet metal cornice up front also carries out this motif.

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jazzttt 1 year, 8 months ago

First, the previous Masonic Bodies that occupied the Temple can in no way be considered a "cult." Both my late father and I were members, the masonic rituals were non-denominationally oriented, and stressed brotherhoood, patriotism and charity. It reminded me more of a church than anything else, there were absolutely no seditious or hateful influences like that infamous church in Topeka.

Second, it would be appropriate for a church to re-occupy this corner. I believe before the Temple was built, this site was occupied by a pioneer Methodist church before they moved cater-corner to 10th and Vermont. The DCHS can confirm this. I hope they can afford it, the energy tab is apt to be huge!

Third, my father informed my brother and I years ago that the organ had deteriorated considerably, all the original leather seals and bellows had dried out and cracked, and would have to be completely replaced before it would hold air again. Our DeMolay and Masonic ceremonies didn't use the house organ, I believe they purchased a smaller console unit and used it out on the floor. It would cost many $K to restore the old Reuter to playable quality.

Good luck in preserving this edifice, not too many Egyptian style buildings left.

Ty Travis, Pine Bluff, AR, former Lawrence DeMolay and Mason.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

When the church leaves I would. Like the building for one year. The organ will be restored. Imwantnall of the drops. At the stage left intact and will turn the place into burlesque house with Tempest Storm for the grand opening. And run a comedy club and the bldg will Be The Moronic Temple. You want entertainment downtown. You' ll get. Got to do it before Dixie Evans dies.

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Damian666 1 year, 8 months ago

Nice to see the sacrificial alter will finally be used again. The trap door under the alter will probably need to be unsealed to really appreciate the features that were built in to this building.

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verity 1 year, 8 months ago

Organ restoration is extremely expensive and after setting unused and deteriorating all these years, no doubt this one will need extensive restoration. Wilbur, the chicken and noodle dinners sound like a good idea, but I think it's going to take more than that.

I also wonder about how much other deterioration there is in the building in general.

". . . the church won’t be undertaking major renovations to the historic building, but rather will be doing minor interior work such as painting and cleaning." Unfortunately, there are usually some big surprises in this sort of thing and I doubt cleaning and painting is going to fix them. I wish them all the best but I expect the church won't be in that building for long.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't care if the church sells Tammy Faye. Makeup. Bring back the chicken and noodle dinners in the basement to raise money for the organ restoration. Lawrence is just so slow with innovative ideas.

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headdoctor 1 year, 8 months ago

A charismatic church holding services in a masonic temple. Priceless. roflmao.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

I wonder where all the folks who talk about how this building will just stay vacant, and use that as a reason to give Compton generous abatements and incentives are?

It's clear from his admission that this building has been vacant for a long time because he bought it without any idea of what he would do with it.

And, in doing so, stopped it from becoming a possibly vibrant business.

Hmmm.

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 8 months ago

Non-denominational churches are the fastest growing "religion" in the US.

And just asking, if people protest a chicken place because the owner is anti gay marriage, why not churches?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 8 months ago

I will give this idea a much higher chance of success if the church serves Mexican food or Pizza.

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Liberal 1 year, 8 months ago

Let's see how many jobs does Doug Compton provide for people in this city? How much in property taxes does he pay to the community?

ACG, an anonymous quote by a supposed former employee, not very credible. Why do you have an ax to grind? Fired?

Your envy does not speak highly of you... what a bunch of ingrates.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

And hopefully the church will not obscure any of the masonic temple stuff in front. The HRC can get off their butts and let the church have a separate sign in front . One can only imagine how little fussy Mr. Dennis Brown will be about a sign for the church.

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paulveer 1 year, 8 months ago

Finally1 Remove that ugly scab from the front of this iconic building.

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acg 1 year, 8 months ago

Compton has money coming out of his ears, but why doesn't he put any of that money into his existing properties? As a former Mgr. for FMI I can tell you that his campus places are falling apart. The Oread and The Regency smell awful, all of the time. He refuses to replace carpeting for tenants or old, nasty, ripped up linoleum. He refuses to upgrade appliances at Highpointe or Applecroft and they are constantly falling apart. I can honestly sit here and list what's wrong with all of his properties and why he refuses to fix them having sat in on his little meetings where they say awful things about their tenants. He doesn't care if he pisses of his tenants because the skanks that run his company are always saying "10,000 new people will be here next year!" That man and his company are a blight on the city of Lawrence. I wish people would realize that and put a stop to his little projects before he owns it all and the whole thing is a slum!!

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consumer1 1 year, 8 months ago

CLikker, very good question??? LJW??? Chad??

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

Let's hope the bar is no issue for the church. Again, that building has more history than the facade and Doug Compton. The organ inside is tied to Reuter organ company. Prof Preyer is more historical than even the Border's bookstore wall.

What do you think that little house was used for that sits behind the house at the SW corner of Mass and 23rd ?

So when will pastor Jared get that organ in order? After all, there is a very good reason to use that building for a church and utilize the organ as a draw for downtown. But the so called leaders in this community don't have diddly squat for making anything downtown a destination, except shopping at some T shirt shops and eating a restaurants with pita bread served by waitstaff grungy looking.

Utilize the Masonic Temple, it has something of interest for music lovers and APOBA.

And again, is tied to more history of Lawrence and KU.

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Clickker 1 year, 8 months ago

Will Louises bar be affected? Since you cant have a bar within 150 ft of a Church or school. Or will they be grandfathered?

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lunacydetector 1 year, 8 months ago

if the church owns the property and is a non-profit they are exempt from property taxes. if they rent, the property owner who profits has to pay property taxes most likely passing them along to the church.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 8 months ago

Finally, there may be a chance to hear someone play that organ. That is the historic part of the building on top of the fact, that the site was the first school of music at KU and the organ when new was played by Professor Preyer who was at KU. (the days when KU really had some intellectual and professionals). Many left at the turn of the century.

I would like to entertain the idea with this minister that he invited Jim Moeser who was the organ prof at KU to come back to play that organ at the Masonic Temple. Moeser head up NC where the current KU chancellor came from.

Anyway, there is more to the building than the facade . Too bad , the J/W won't do some research on Prof Preyer and some in depth reading about him from a publication written about him.

Get to work Chad. I really hate to do your homework.

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bornherelongago 1 year, 8 months ago

Who is going to pay to have the building sprinkled and air conditioned? That's got to be a couple hundred thousand dollars. Considering what Compton paid for the building, I can't imagine he will re-coup on it. And if he still owns the building, he still has to pay property tax. Doesn't seem like a sound business move for Doug to me.

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Matthew Del Vecchio 1 year, 8 months ago

wow I'm really glad Compton bought that building now, another Last Call type of establishment is the last thing downtown needs and that grandfathered liquor status would have made that property attractive to a nightclub owner. I'm sure it wasn't a completely selfless act considering his other holdings downtown but regardless he did us favor there.

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RDE87 1 year, 8 months ago

I like how Compton admitted to buying the building without a plan for it. Does he have so much money he just likes spending it or is he that desperate to have a monopoly of all the real estate in Lawrence?

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aarontoddp 1 year, 8 months ago

I've known Jared for about 15 years, we disagree on who or what God really is but he is a good guy, he will add to the community.

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Ricky_Vaughn 1 year, 8 months ago

Sounds like a bunch of rich people who are too good for normal Christian churches (like there aren't enough to choose from?). I'm sure they can't wait to exploit the tax loopholes too.

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pizzapete 1 year, 8 months ago

Who buys a building with no idea what they're going to do with it? He did stop a nightclub from going in, one that might compete directly with the one he's going to put in the hotel building.

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consumer1 1 year, 8 months ago

The Greenhouse Culture ? Paleeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!! If this is really a church, then rabbit have wings.

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Ragingbear 1 year, 8 months ago

It would be better to burn that place to the ground than having yet another cult occupy it.

(Note. This statement is intended as opinion and in no way should be regarded as a threat or as any sort of support for said action.)

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

The 'deep' penetrating profound intellectual question is, 'Do they eat 'Chicken?''

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Catalano 1 year, 8 months ago

ROFLMAO! So much for using it for a temporary library during the renovation. And bringing it up to code etc. But did Doug sell it to the church or is the church renting it?

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Keith Richards 1 year, 8 months ago

There are at least 5 churches that I know of, but probably many more.

As for parking, it is my understanding downtown businesses are not required to provide parking.

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Tammy Copp-Barta 1 year, 8 months ago

Does anyone know how many churches are downtown in that area? Is there enough parking for all of them? Do any of them have or are required to have dedicated parking? I know the churches around there are old, so don't know what requirements they have/had ... just curious.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 8 months ago

A church on Mass. That's a new one.

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