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Lexington buying Masonic site for almost $11 million

Posted by Brock Parker  March 19, 2013 06:11 PM

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Lexington officials Tuesday evening announced the town is purchasing the Scottish Rite Masonic headquarters after the fraternal organization accepted the town's offer of almost $11 million.

In a press release after 5 p.m. Tuesday, the town said the Scottish Rite accepted the offer Tuesday.

Selectman Peter Kelley said in the press release that it is a historic moment for Lexington just as the town's 300th anniversary approaches at the end of March.

Lexington Town Meeting voted Monday night to appropriate about $11 million in an effort to buy a Scottish Rite Masonic headquarters the town has discussed using as a community center.

In a roll call vote, Town Meeting voted 173 to 2 in favor of appropriating the money and authorizing the Board of Selectmen to purchase the property.

Selectwoman Deb Mauger told Town Meeting Monday that the the Scottish Rite’s governing body would decide Tuesday on whether to accept the town’s offer of $10,950,000 for the site.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our future,” Mauger said.

The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite has been attempting to sell its headquarters at 33 Marrett Road and plans to move into space at its neighboring National Heritage Museum, which is not being sold. The Supreme Council based in Lexington governs the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, which covers 15 states from New England to Wisconsin and Delaware.

The 10-acres of property the town is seeking to buy includes the headquarters, which has been in a mansion built in 1905 and a carriage house. Lexington is considering using the land as a community center that would serve senior citizens and young people.

Mauger told Town Meeting members Monday that the town first offered $8 million for the property, but increased the amount twice because of competition from other bidders.

The town will use a combination of Community Preservation Act funds, debt and tax dollars to buy the property. Closing costs will push the price over $11 million for the town.

Mauger said the Scottish Rite will remain in the current headquarters until September or October.

Only Town Meeting member Charles Hornig spoke in opposition to the purchase Monday night. Hornig said he was not convinced the location is in the right place for a community center, and the price tag would leave the town little flexibility in how it could use the property.

“The price is quite high, I think we all can agree with that,” Hornig said.

But Town Meeting member Pam Hoffman voiced support for the purchase, saying that hopefully people of all ages in the town would use a community center on the property, but the purchase would be worth the cost even if senior citizens are the only people to use it.

“If we buy it, they will come,” Hoffman said.

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