WTNH TV 8 - Norwich, CT
Masonic temple to be demolished
(Norwich-WTNH, June 14, 2006 5:32 PM) _ In a matter of weeks bulldozers will be moving in to tear down a piece of the past. The Masonic Temple stands on royal Mohegan burial grounds, and it won't be long before the tribe begins returning the site to its natural state.
by News Channel 8's Darren Duarte
The Masonic Temple has been a staple in its neighborhood for decades. For centuries, the Mohegan tribe tried to acquire the land because it's sacred ground.
The tribe finally bought it in 1999. Now they're making plans to demolish the temple.
"I think it's going to be a shame to see it go because it's been there for so long," says Michelle Kenny, who lives nearby.
Tribal vice chair Lynn Malerba says the land was developed over desecrated graves.
"We never gave up because our ancestors never gave up."
She says historical wrongs will be corrected once the temple comes down.
"It means that we're able to honor our ancestors and that we provide them the resting place that they were due," she said.
The Masonic Temple is just a few yards away from what remains of a larger Indian burial ground. A monument was dedicated to a Mohegan chief back in 1833.
"We consider that a lasting tribute to him," Malerba says, "and so we're again thrilled that's so close to the parcel and that we're able to recognize our ancestors all at once."
Neighbors of the temple wonder what the tribe will put in its place.
"Maybe a museum, a small museum commemorating Indian burials that were there," says Kenny.
There's no plan in place yet, but the Mohegans say they will replace the temple with something the city can be proud of.
"They're looking to put something very serene, very peaceful and very beautiful," Malerba said.