The Village of Bath Masonic Hall Rehabilitation Project involves the reuse of a historically important and culturally significant building located in the heart of the Village’s downtown area; part of the Village’s Liberty Street Historic District (listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983). Located on the historic Pulteney Square, the stately Greek Revival building was originally built as the Steuben County Bank in 1833 (the first bank in the county). In 1894, the bank was liquidated, and the building was sold to the Steuben Club (a membership organization). In 1923, the Steuben Club subsequently sold the building to the Masonic Temple Association, Chapter 112 (the building continues to be known as the Masonic Hall because of the organizations’ lengthy occupancy of 83 years). One year after the purchase of the building, the Masonic Temple Association laid the cornerstone for a three-story addition during a formal dedication of the Bath Masonic Temple (documents of the organization, along with local newspapers and memorabilia are in a copper box sealed in the cornerstone). The Masonic organization flourished during its years at the building, as indicated in a 1993 bicentennial publication that state the hall was home to four men’s fraternities and two women’s groups.
The proposed rehabilitation project is designed to mirror the 1924 renovation of the building by the Masonic Temple Association. The 1924 renovation featured commercial space (offices and retail) on the building’s first floor. The second floor featured the temple (site of a proposed restaurant designed to preserve the temple area’s open nature) and a separate area with a dining room and kitchen (site of a proposed apartment). The third floor featured a gallery that looked down into the open temple area. The project will also include the removal of a 1950’s addition, the masonry coating on the building’s rear wing, the restoration and cleaning of the building’s original brickwork, and complete restoration of the building’s windows.
The building’s restoration is in line with the Village Comprehensive Plan strategies of improving community appearance (while maintaining historic character) and encouraging economic development. This project will allow the Village to increase its tax base, thereby improving municipal finances and the wherewithal to further grow the municipality’s tax and resource base, lessening its dependence on state aid.