City leaders committed to renovating historic black Masonic temple | News
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC)- Efforts to return a beloved historic landmark in Birmingham to its former glory are slowly but surely getting underway.
At one time the colored Masonic Temple was an anchor of African American business and culture. But the temple, located at 4th Avenue North and 17th Street North, closed last year ahead of major renovations.
FOX6 News has learned that it will be quite a while before renovation plans are completed but lots of folks look forward to that day.
The temple was built in 1922 and through the Civil Rights era it provided services for the African American community they may not have been able to get elsewhere.
With seven stories, it is a massive building and in its heyday, it held the offices of doctors, lawyers, dentists, tailors, and hair salons. This is also where many weddings and balls and concerts were held as well as strategic planning meetings in which Martin Luther king, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall attended.
But in 2011, tenants were moved out and the building shut down because it need major repairs and work to bring it up to code.
Last week, the city of Birmingham sent representatives to New Orleans to meet with officials of the Masonic Temple organization. Those representatives say that during that meeting, temple officials talked about making major renovations to the building pumping as much as $10 million into it.
"They're committed to get back with the city to work out a plan of renovation for the building. And we're looking to hear from them now. There's something they've got to do internally but we have been in conversations with them," Mayor William Bell said.
William Anderson, a local representative of the Masonic Temple, says the lodge wants to make sure they have everything in order before they come before the public and announce a capital campaign.
While there is no timeline set yet as for when they'd like to introduce that he says the most important thing to know is that they are moving forward and want to make sure the building is restored to the prominence it once held.
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