Masonic Building: Restoration & Reinvention

The Masonic Building is a landmark historic building located at the key intersection of Bank Square in the heart of Eastport, Maine’s small downtown. The building was built in 1887 and designed by Boston and Saint John, New Brunswick architect, Henry Black. It forms part of a 30 building downtown National Register Historic District established in 1982. In the spring of 2019, the front of the Masonic Building was on the verge of outright collapse due to a severely compromised 50 foot wooden structural beam between the first and second floors. Fortunately, the Tides Institute & Museum of Art (TIMA) was able to purchase the building at this time and immediately replace the wooden structural beam with a steel beam. The ground level storefronts, which also were severely compromised, have also now been completely rebuilt as has half of the deteriorated ground level floor.

TIMA’s vision for the building is to develop multi-use spaces brimming with activity including the area’s first local foods restaurant/cafe on the ground floor along with a museum entrance, lobby and climate controlled exhibition cabinet displays, an expanded climate controlled exhibition space on the second floor to better share TIMA’s remarkable and diverse cultural collections that reflect the area’s rich cultural legacy and works from elsewhere in the world, and to develop expanded climate controlled collection storage space in the rear attached warehouse of the building to house TIMA’s irreplaceable collections alongside working cubicles. The redeveloped Masonic Building will join two other nearby TIMA downtown buildings including artist-in-residence studio spaces to form a synergetic creative triangle.

Currently, redevelopment efforts of the Masonic Building are focused on the upper front second and third floor damaged brick masonry wall and install a missing replica copper cornice on the front of the building between the first and second floors. The total cost of this next step is over $500,000 and TIMA has now raised $400,000 towards this amount. Work began in November 2021 and is expected to be completed by late fall, 2022. Contributions towards this next step can made be made through this link: Donate.

Additional redevelopment steps for the Masonic Building over the next several years include a required fire suppressant sprinkler system, new kitchen, new heating system, new elevator, new windows and new climate controlled exhibition and collection spaces.

Front of Masonic Building, August, 2021
Front of Masonic Building shortly after it was built in 1887.
Installation of cribbing in front of Masonic Building prior to structural beam replacement in 2019.
Interior view of grand second floor Masonic hall that will be restored for exhibition and event space. The original restored electric lights date to 1904.
One of two special farm to table dinners held on the first floor of the Masonic Building, Friday, August 6, 2021.

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