Rifle Masonic Lodge looking to renovate aging structure along Railroad Avenue with help from State Historical Society
Century old building that has been home to Freemason Lodge #129 in Rifle for 105 years
One step into the Masonic Lodge on Railroad Avenue is like a trip back in time, turning the clock back decades.
Craftsmanship and ornate wood details surround the old stairway and wrap-around the doorways. Two large classic Westinghouse stoves fill the small kitchen on the main floor.
For nearly a decade now Ron Roesener, a 32nd Degree Mason from Parachute, has been working to save the home to the Freemason Lodge No. 129 in Rifle.
“I’ve spent since 2011 working with the Colorado Historical Society to get recognition for our lodge,” Roesener said.
The Rifle Masonic Lodge, which dates back to 1912, originally met above what is now the Smoke Shop at the corner of Fourth Street and Railroad Avenue.
“Our original meeting room was upstairs in that building,” Roesener said.
“The Masonic organization had grown so much that they moved down valley and opened their next lodge in Rifle.”
Roesener said at one point in time the lodge had 378 members.
“We currently have about 50 members, a lot of whom are in nursing homes right now,” Roesener said. “We have enough that we can have bi-monthly meetings.”
With membership dipping over the years the lodge, which operates with the help of membership dues, has not been able to keep up with regular repairs.
Like many structures that are over a century old the building that houses the Masonic Lodge has fallen on hard time and is in need of updating and restoration.
“All the background and historical work I’ve done on it, at one time we owned most of the block the building is on,” Roesener said. “Having been opened in 1914 and in use since then on a regular basis, there has never been a time when it was shut down.”
A fourth-generation freemason, Roesener considers this a passion project.
He fought for two years to get historical recognition of the building from the city of Rifle.
Roesener is currently working with the Colorado Historical Society to secure grants to help with the project.
A year ago Roesener received a grant from the Colorado historical society totaling $35,000 to engage an architectural firm and construction analyst to look at the lodge and see what exactly it needed.
He found an architect, Jessica Reske who specializes in historic preservation.
Roesener said the architectural firm found that there are four different types of electrical wiring.
“If we don’t maintain what we have, eventually there is going to be a problem,” Roesener said.
Two industrial-sized furnaces, one for the first floor from 1951, heat the building and the other is for the second floor from 1952.
Roesener said If you sit in the lodge on a windy day you will see the sheer curtains sway back and forth as the air passes through the original single pain windows.
“I have a passion for this place, it is part of my life, its part of my ancestry,” Roesener said.
Roesener just learned two weeks ago that he would be receiving another $34,000 from the historical society to help with planning for the restoration.
He said he has been able to raise an additional $12,000 – some of which has to go to replacing the water heater recently.
“My greatest supporters financially have been the Garfield County Commissioners. They have given us their discretionary funds they can award twice a year, and twice they’ve given checks for the lodge for $5,000,” Roesener said. “What we are shooting for is once we get all the approval through the state, they will cut us our first check for $250,000 to go towards the refurbishment of the lodge.”
Roesener said he will know for sure within the next 6-10 months if the state will be funding the restoration.
“My goal is to get the lodge completely redone and made safe,” Roesener said.
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