Follow up to previous threads....
PATERSON -- The Masons built their Paterson headquarters to last.
In justifying why the former Masonic Temple should be considered a local historic landmark, Gianfranco Archimede, executive director of the Paterson Historic Preservation Commission, pointed to the building's mass.
"The Masonic Temple exhibits a high degree of integrity for its size and age, surviving today largely intact in its original design construction and function," Archimede wrote in a memo to the commission in 2005.
The commission is halfway to getting the city to designate the building, constructed in 1923 at 385-405 Broadway, a landmark. So far, the temple has received approval from the Planning Board and the historic preservation commission awaits a decision from the City Council, which has the final say.
A local landmark designation restricts changes the owner may make to the building. Specifically, if approved, the building could not be demolished and the city would restrict any alterations to the exterior of the building, according to Paterson's Planner Michael Deutsch.
The Masons' former meeting place, designed by Paterson's prominent architect Fred Wesley Wentworth, was built in Renaissance Revival style and boasts Greek-style Ionic columns. Inside, the dark lobby welcomes visitors with its white marble floors.
Today, a non-denominational church called the Love of Jesus Family Church operates from the former temple -- using the Masons' large auditorium for Sunday services. The church bought the building from a group of Jehovah's Witnesses in late 2005.
Archimede said the Jehovah's Witnesses group poured about $1 million into renovating the inside and that the current owners are fixing up more of the interior so it can hold community events in the future.
Hope Fraticelli, director of community development for the Love of Jesus Family Church, said the center's pastor, Cassiaus Farrell, would not discuss the building until the landmark designation process is complete.
Aside from its massive presence and decorative plaques, the other notable architectural element of the building is the lack of windows anywhere on the exterior -- an architectural symbol of the Masons' history as a secret society.
During a phone interview, Archimede said the building is unique because, unlike other Wentworth buildings -- City Hall or the Paterson post office, for examples -- the temple was used by a private group.
"Its not civic architecture, but it's on the scale of civic architecture," he said.
Reach Alexander MacInnes at 973-569-7166 or [email protected]