Historic Masonic Temple Slated For Demolition

Historic Masonic Temple Slated For Demolition

Masonic Temple, photo credit Deb Brown.

Unless the Bethel Building Department receives a written letter of opposition before January 14, 2012, the historic 100-year-old Masonic Temple located at 84 Greenwood Ave. will be destroyed. Originally built in 1912 as the Congregational Church’s Parish Hall, in 1919 it became too expensive to operate and was sold to I.F. Terry who owned and operated Terry Lumber on Elizabeth Street, according to records from Patrick Wild, Bethel Town Historian. After the Terry family turned it over it was operated by The Community Association until the structure was sold in 1927 to the Masons.

In 1921 the building housed a Silent Movie Theater, according to Bethel Historical Society president Patricia Rist who said of the demolition: “It’s a shame and it is difficult to see it go, but the fact it that it has no parking and the way zoning laws are now, nothing really can be built there.”

Rist said the Masons approached the Historical Society to give them the building free of charge, however, it would be too expensive to renovate and maintain, Rist said. She also said if they held any events at the building there would not be enough parking. The Historical Society currently operates out of their building located on Main Street.

Up until a 2004, the building has been used as a party hall until a 21-year-old Stamford man, Darnell Merritt, was shot dead after a party. According to police reports, Merritt was shot at least 5 times in the back at 1:54 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2004. (Click here to read the full News-Times article.)

In 2010 the victim’s mother, Patricia Merritt sued the Bethel Police Department for negligence, alleging the B.P.D. knew of prior gang activity at the building, according to court records.

According to public records  the trial court struck the plaintiff’s negligence claims based on governmental immunity and the Appellate Court affirmed:

– Court found the decision of the Police Department to be discretionary, and further found that plaintiff was never identified to the Bethel Police Department as being at imminent risk of harm.

– Court noted that the foreseeable class of victims exception has only been extended to schoolchildren, statutorily mandated to attend school, injured during school hours.

The Masonic Temple Association owed more than $25,000 in back taxes, however according to pubic records the bill has recently been paid.

The following public notice was posted in The News-Times on Dec. 14, 2011 and on the Town of Bethel website:

LEGAL NOTICE On December 14, 2011, the Town of Bethel Building Department, 1 School Street, Bethel, Connecticut 06801 received an application for a Demolition Permit. The proposal is to demolish the Masonic Temple building located at 84 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, Connecticut 06801 and listed on the Town of Bethel Assessor’s records as on Map 22, Block 31, Lot 09. This building was constructed in 1912. The property is owned by Masonic Temple Association, P. O. Box 11, Bethel, Connecticut 06801, who will notify property owners within 100 feet of their intent to demolish by certified and registered letters, and provide proof to the Building Department of the successful delivery of said letters or the owner’s attempt to deliver said letters. Due to the age of this building, a ninety- (90) day waiting period is in effect beginning on the date of first publication of this legal notice. If no written objections are received by the Building Department within thirty (30) days of the first publication of this notice, the Building Official has the option of waiving the last sixty (60) days of this waiting period, and granting this permit at that time. Dated this 14th day of December, 2011. Gary Boughton Building Official.

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Posted on December 20, 2011, in Home and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. How about using the building as the Bethel Teen Center

  2. Good idea, but would need way too much renovation and updating to be economically feasible.

    Sad to say, but it’s a white elephant way past its prime 😦

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