MERIDEN — Members of the Tien Yuen Foundation Inc. are working to get the former Masonic Temple on East Main Street ready for renovations.
“We have members all over the world,” said George Tan of Stamford. “We were looking for a bigger place. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
The Tien Yuen Foundation Inc. was founded in Queens, New York in 1993. The Taiwanese group bought the neo-classical building at 112-116 E. Main St. for $425,000 earlier this year to house their Buddhist temple. The group plans to keep its Queens location, but host twice monthly gatherings in the city.
“This building is pretty unique,” Tan said. “We like the architecture, it fits our needs.”
Workers were seen inside measuring windows and stripping out parts of the kitchen and banquet area.
The stairs to the pedestrian bridge that spans the Meriden Green to the train station can be seen from the temple’s rear entrance.
“People can take the train from New York,” Tan said. “We are in proximity of the station.”
The three-story building has 20,250 square feet, much more than the current Mason membership requires, the Masons said. The temple was built in 1927. Upkeep of the building cost about $120,000 annually and membership was short about $35,000 to $40,000 every year.
”We had to downsize because you can’t get the young guys (to join),” said Thom Knowlton, past master of Meridian Lodge 77.
Like other freemason groups around the globe, the local masons are reaching out to young men who might be interested in the club.
The Masons searched for several months to find new space and bought two business condominiums at 35 Pleasant St., Knowlton said. The temple holds gatherings for Meridian Lodge 77, and Center Lodge 97 as well as the Knights Templar. The move has been comfortable, he said.
”It has better parking,” Knowlton said.
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