Temple renovation in Madison
a pet project for Campbells
use of space
uncertain when the dust settles
MADISON, Ind. (August 2003) The former Masonic
Temple on Madisons Main Street, hidden behind scaffolding blanketed
with tarps, has been the topic of much speculation by area residents
the past several months. Activity at the historic building, which stood
dormant for quite some time, has had many wondering just whats
Soon, probably just prior to the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art,
some of the speculation will be laid to rest. By that time, the buildings
owners, John and Donn Campbell, hope to have removed the platforms and
tarps behind which workers have been steadily laboring to remove many
layers of paint from the buildings brick exterior.
Were looking at about 115 years of paint theyre stripping,
all by hand, said Donn Campbell. Nobody whos living
today has seen the brick.
Seeing so much time and effort put into the buildings renovation
has also had people asking just who are the Campbells and why are they
tackling such a massive project? Its not what most would assume.
by Don Ward
roof on the back side.
The Campbells and their four children, ages 8-13, moved
to Madison from Key West, Fla., in 2000. The couple had been searching
the country for a good place to raise their children for about three
years. They first visited Madison in 1996 on the recommendation of a
friend and immediately fell in love with the town. Although they looked
at several cities across the country, the Campbells found that Madison
consistently stayed at the top of their list. My husband would
always say (about other cities), Its nice, but its
not Madison, recalled Campbell.
In 1999, the Campbells decided to make Madison their new home. That
year, while scouting properties for sale in the area, they looked at
the Masonic Temple. The building had been put on the market by the Masons,
and Donn Campbell thought that the second and third floors might make
a nice home.
Although they loved the building, the couple hesitated to make an offer.
They decided that with four young children, it would be best to have
some land something they wouldnt get with a building in
the middle of downtown.
In the interim, the Masonic Temple was purchased by real estate investor
and entrepreneur Bob Maile, owner of Madison Table & Light Co. The
Campbells ultimately opted for a home on the hilltop, the former Glyman
farm. But they never forgot about the Masonic Temple. It was constantly
nagging at me that we didnt buy it, said Campbell.
After moving to Madison, Campbell said she walked by the building every
day, still contemplating what she would do if she owned it. Eventually,
she and her husband decided to see if Maile was willing to sell. We
contacted Mr. Maile and were able to work something out, Campbell
by Ruth Wright
the former lodge hall.
The couple purchased the property from Maile in November
2001. Now, nearly two years later, the Campbells are well on their way
to transforming the building into the handsome structure it once was.
Built in 1871-1872, the Masonic Temple was erected at a cost of approximately
$25,000, according to records found in the Jefferson County Historical
Society archives. That was an amount that pales in comparison to the
cost of renovation.
Campbell declined to reveal just how much it is costing to renovate
the building. But the couple obviously have put quite a bit of money
into the project. Although she admits it hasnt been easy or inexpensive,
Campbell said she had no illusions going into the project. Its
not an investment, Campbell quickly pointed out.
Brian Martin, the general contractor of the project, explained some
of the details that go into restoring a historic structure. Just stripping
the paint from exterior brick, has been a very lengthy process
involving lots of research and testing, Martin said. Martins
crew applies a biodegradable chemical stripper to the paint, which is
then scraped off by hand. After the paint is removed, the brick is washed
down. All water and paint is collected treated on site with another
chemical product that neutralizes any toxins, according to Martin.
Its pretty extensive, said Martin of the restoration
process. The whole idea is to rework everything to make it look
as close to the original as possible.
Part of Campbells dedication to such an extensive project stems
from her love of older buildings. The familys residence in Key
West was a 160-year-old home that she and her husband restored. Leaving
the home behind had Campbell itching to tackle another project in Madison.
I knew that we wanted to do something with an older building,
and this Main Street is just amazing, Campbell said.
After the Campbells purchased the building, they began researching its
history, gathering what little information was available from old newspaper
clippings, library and historical society archives. Because the Masons
are a secretive society, not a lot of information about the building
exists. The Campbells are using what pictures and information they have
culled from various sources to make sure that everything is being restored
as close to the original state as possible, inside and out.
Besides stripping paint from the buildings exterior, that includes
laying a new roof in a pattern as close to the original as possible
and repainting third-floor meeting rooms in original paint schemes.
To accomplish the latter, two separate paint analyses were ordered to
determine the original colors. Various colors, according to Campbell,
held particular meaning among the Masons.
Because they are intent on restoring the building as closely as possible
to its original form, the Campbells have made few structural changes.
One of the few walls that has been removed was on the second floor,
located directly across from the top of the stairway. The wall was likely
an addition, said Campbell, because its removal revealed a hidden stairwell.
Campbell had the staircase, which leads down and out the back of the
A tour of the buildings interior revealed many interesting architectural
features. The second floor is divided into several rooms, which were
at one time leased by the Masons for various offices including the Justice
of the Peace. There is also evidence that the public library was once
housed on the second floor, said Campbell. The floor was closed to the
public in the 1940s. The second floor and became social rooms, a kitchen
and dining room for the hall.
The third floor was used by the Masons for meetings and rituals. Two
large meeting rooms flank the floors north and south sides. The smaller
of the two contains remnants of a small raised stage. The second meeting
room, the larger and more ornate of the two, contains three columned
alters or platforms. The room also features a double-barrel vaulted
ceiling, which soars to a peak of about 20 feet, according to Martin.
The Campbells have made several interesting finds during the renovation
process. After stripping some of the original woodwork, it was discovered
that the pine from which the woodwork was made had originally been hand-painted
to resemble oak or rosewood.
Another interesting discovery was the two small, approximately 5x5-feet
rooms painted black, each with a small built-in bench as the only accoutrement.
Campbell nicknamed them mediation rooms.
Campbell was pretty close in her guess of the rooms purpose. The
Knights Templar, part of the York Rite, a division of the Masons, called
these rooms the chamber of reflection, according to Herbert
Hoover, a member of Union Lodge #2 F&AM. Inductees into the secretive
society were taken to the rooms to reflect upon three important questions
before giving their answers and being accepted into the society, Hoover
Hoover, who has been a Mason since 1960, said the organization decided
to sell the property when members realized they could not afford to
make the renovations needed to make it a useful property, something
he said has happened to many Masonic fraternities across the country.
Now in a building on Bear Street, Hoover said the Masons are glad to
see new life being restored to their old meeting place. I think
the consensus is that were glad that it will be made into a showplace,
One primary question Campbell said she is often asked is what the rest
of the building will be used for. Campbell is not yet sure. The second
floor is divided into several rooms and could be used, as in the past,
for offices or retail space. I think it would be a beautiful restaurant,
The third floor will be the last area to be renovated. Campbell said
that she envisions the floor as possible event space or a private apartment.
It has been suggested that the walls be removed, opening up the entire
floor, Campbell said, but thats something she could not bring
herself to do.
Currently, two retail shops occupy the first floor. All Ways Pottery
opened last July and Something Simple opened in late September. Both
shop owners are enduring the inconvenience of renovation going on above
them, but they, like many other retailers downtown, are hopeful that
in the end it will be worth the wait.
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