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Work is nearing completion at the Masonic Temple, which was built in 1903 at 230 Pine Ave. in downtown Long Beach.
It’s a beautiful building inside, full of warm tones from variously stained Douglas fir floors, exposed brick, skylights and large windows.
The real showcase of the building is its 7,100-square-foot main hall where lodge meetings were held more than a century ago. It’s a beautiful room with a raised stage beneath a cast-iron circular sculpture, a massive barrel vaulted ceiling with skylight and, at its rear, a wall decorated with a mystical sunrise mural.
Bringing all of this history back to the future is an all-Long Beach-based group that includes co-owners Kurt Schneiter of Maverick Investments and Scott Hamilton of DOMA Properties as well as project manager Jan Van Dijs, principal architect Jonathan Glasgow and general contractor Jason Stewart. In various combinations, they have been involved with such restoration projects as the Walker Building, the Art Theater, the Fingerprints/Berlin complex, the Psychic Temple, the Arts Building, the Temple Lofts and several residences in the Bluff Park and Rose Park areas.
We asked Stewart if Schneiter was easy to work with.
“No,” he replied. Then added, “But that’s the kind of person you want when you’re doing something of this scale. You want a perfectionist, and he is that.”
As is Hamilton. He and Schneiter stood among the rubble in the alley behind the building and looked at mock-ups of the building’s front and argued a bit about the colors of the temple’s bricked three-bay front and three steeply pitched gables that represent the Masons’ affection for the principal of the Holy Trinity.
In the mock-up, the building’s sign reads “The Masonic,” though that’s still a point of discussion and debate.
And still a matter of discussion and negotiation is who will rent the building’s space and for what use, though Schneiter says there will be a restaurant on the ground floor.
“And there will definitely be some cool events in the main hall. It’s going to be a public place,” he said, soothing our fears that it would be leased by a company that would fill the historic building with health-care workers.
Since work begun about seven months ago, the owners have put more than $1 million into the restoration and structural reinforcement to the building that, despite its brick construction, survived the 1933 earthquake with minimal damage. When it opens sometime in early 2014, it will be the first time the temple’s great hall will be used for events since the Masons left the building in 1951.
The ground floor has been used for retail since it was built. Its occupants have included Barnett’s Booteries and Hardy shoe stores and Brown Book & Stationery Store and, most notably, the arty Z Gallerie furniture store, a tenant that leased the entire building in 1995. Z Gallerie left in 2010 and the building has been vacant since then.
Negotiations with new tenants is underway and an announcement should be made soon.
Contact Tim Grobaty at 562-714-2116, firstname.lastname@example.org, @grobaty on Twitter.