Suburban Freemason lodges to be sold to raise cash
November 29, 2012
UPDATE: FREEMASONS will sell off some of their suburban lodges as the male organisation's state boss admitted that its city headquarters had been on a "financial knife-edge".
Masonic buildings in eastern areas such as Kew, Camberwell and Canterbury will be shut down and new modern premises opened in Box Hill as the group strives to attract younger members.
As reported in yesterday's Herald Sun, Dallas Brooks Hall will also close down as part of a $250 million-plus redevelopment of the Masonic Centre in East Melbourne.
Developer Mirvac will build 250 flats under a deal that will retain Masonic meeting rooms and other facilities on the site.
Freemasons Victoria Grand Master Bob Jones said the agreement was in the best interests of members given dwindling revenue.
"The time has come, we have been on a financial knife-edge," he said.
Victorian membership has fallen from more than 110,000 in the 1960s to 13,000.
But the organisation says the decline has been halted with the recruitment of 800 younger members in recent years.
Grand Master Jones said membership was growing again under a policy to be more open about Freemasonry.
''We wanted to open up our doors, tell the world what it is we do and stop this secretiveness about ourselves,'' he said.
Displays of historical artefacts and Masonic information will be accessible to the public in the redevelop centre, which is due to open in 2018, subject to planning approvals.
Grand Master Jones wears an ``all-seeing eye'' image on his ceremonial apron, which symbolises wisdom.
''I'm supposed to have all the knowledge, which my wife will tell you I don't,'' he said.
''Our rituals, our ceremonials we are very proud of, they are hundreds of years old and we play them out today exactly the same way we did for the last 100 years, while taking new members and making them better men.''
Freemasons Victoria raises more than $1 million for charity annually, with donations to groups including breast cancer awareness and bikes for disadvantaged and disabled kids.