WATERTOWN — After almost a three-year delay, work finally resumed Monday on restoring the historic Masonic Temple on Washington Street.
Workers have been erecting scaffolding on the front of the landmark at 240 Washington St. to prepare for extensive repairs to the building’s portico roof.
Co-owner Robert J. Campany said he and his partner Augusta Withington, who co-own Fourth Coast Inc., a renewable energy company in Clayton, finally got preservation approval that allows the work to once again proceed.
“We’re ready to get going,” he said.
Plans now call for completing the roof repairs this fall “to protect everyone else underneath,” he said.
Once that is done, work will then begin on restoring a deteriorating column on the front of the building next spring. It’s been difficult to obtain some materials for that restoration work, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also delayed the project.
City officials have been wondering when the work would finally start up again.
On Tuesday, Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, was unaware that work resumed.
“We’re excited to see it underway,” he said.
Cardinal Construction will do the roof repairs, while Continental Construction, Gouverneur, is handling the scaffolding.
About two years ago, the owners installed mesh netting near the top of the building to prevent pieces of the building from falling to the ground.
They worked with Crawford & Stearns architecture, Syracuse, on submitting an application to the New York State Historic Preservation Office about the modifications they plan to complete and to receive tax credits.
The owners obtained $1.2 million in state Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding for the project.
They’ll also use $500,000 in Restore New York money to complete this phase of the overall project on the Greek neoclassical building.
The developers have invested more than $600,000 to replace the rest of the building’s roof, to stabilize the building and complete other improvements.
The owners are credited with saving the historic 103-year-old building from demolition. In 2013, the Clayton business owners purchased the Masonic Temple by paying $32,439 for its back taxes.
The hope has been to turn the renovated historic structure into a tourist destination that brings visitors downtown. There are no current plans for the building’s interior.