Over the years, several people have taken a stab at trying to rehab the old Masonic Temple in Downtown Watertown. So far, no one has had any success. Now there's a new man in the equation and as our Brian Dwyer reports, he might be the most serious person with a plan to take the historic building and convert it into an art and education center.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- With this grand theatre and amazing history, it's no surprise a number of people have wanted to fix up and bring back the Masonic Temple in Watertown. But the building is falling apart and it's easy to see no one has been able to do it.
Now, a Henderson man, an artist and historian, thinks he could be the answer.
"It's all about the plan. I think the earlier attempts at it were single use ideas. In this economy, the reality is, you have to have multiple options and multiple activities happening here," said Garrett McCarthy, Masonic Temple owner.
McCarthy, who bought the building Thursday, says his plan will bring both the arts and education to the temple. It's got the theatre, office and/or home areas, a massive kitchen and even a gymnasium.
McCarthy says he's already lined up several interested organizations that could become tenants. He says his goal is to bring a piece of culture to the downtown area. And with all the artifacts and items left behind, he knows he can mix the history into it as well. In fact, he plans to call it Master's Square.
"The Masons. We're all like, 'Those Masons. They've been so quiet and so secretive. We want to know,' but generally, it'll be a testament to the Masons," McCarthy said.
And believe it or not, McCarthy says it should only take about two and half years before this place is ready for the bright lights and big stage.
McCarthy said, "There's a lot of work to be done. I understand that. No illusion to what is going to be needed."
And there's no question the people, and even city leaders, hope he can save it in time.
The Temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
McCarthy says his first move is to start working on grants and any extra funding before getting into the real work of restoration.