The Haunted Masonic
By James Donahue
The old Masonic building
was marked for demolition if somebody didn’t come along to make some badly needed structural repairs.
We stumbled on the building
quite by accident, while exploring the possibility of purchasing another building in the area. While talking to the village
manager about the complexities of wading through building and zoning codes to refurbish another downtown structure, the woman
casually mentioned this one.
She said the building,
last used as a township hall, was taken over by a local factory and retained for a while as a public service. But that plant
was sold to a European corporation and the orders were out to dispose of all unnecessary holdings. That included the old Masonic
Hall, even though it was a state registered historic landmark built in 1881.
That perked my interest.
I called the plant manager, confirmed that the building was in jeopardy, and arranged for a tour. It was one of the spookiest
structures I have ever been in.
The main floor was vast,
with high ceilings stretching an estimated 20 feet. But the floors were covered in linoleum tile, there were two giant industrial
gas-powered furnaces hanging from the ceiling, and a stage constructed at the far end. In the back was a large room with beautiful
oak cabinets built right to the ceiling. Off from that were two working bathrooms, with toilets and lavatories.
Wooden steps behind a
door located just off the front entrance way lead up to a maze of dark, dusty, windowless and long unused rooms. Getting through
the maze brought us into another large, spacious room at the rear. Pieces of plaster had fallen from the walls and ceiling
to the floor, evidence of a leaking roof. And an ominous iron bar, obviously supporting a sagging ceiling, was located in
about the center of the floor. A back door opened to a rusty iron staircase bolted to the exterior of the brick structure.
A return through the
maze of rooms, and taking another door to the left, brought us into a front room that was not a comfortable place to visit.
I think my hair literally raised and certainly I experienced a strange sensation in the back of my neck as I stood there.
Something quite supernatural was in that room.
The most haunted part
of the building was yet to be visited. I think the plant manager also sensed it because he came up with some excuse not to
give me a tour. But I found the entrance, located in the back just off an alley, wide open. Accompanied by another man who
owned a nearby store, we later took flashlights in hand and toured that basement.
The place had been used
by the youth as a haunted house at some distant Halloween event and never cleaned up. Thus it was a maze of fake plastic walk-ways
twisting past dusty remnants of paper Mache corpses, headless monsters and other spooky things designed to frighten youngsters
picking their way through in the dark.
I don’t know why
they bothered rigging up all of the paraphernalia. That basement had a nuance of horror that didn’t need props. Even
after we bought the building and cleaned the trash away, the eerie feeling that overpowered you in that basement never went
In the back the floor
was dirt. But toward the front of the basement, the floor turned to wood. And to our surprise, we found two jail cells, still
intact. From the inside it was clear that there once existed a door to steps leading up to the sidewalk. It had all been covered
by concrete. Research on the history of the building revealed that the basement was once used as the local police station.
Long after it was a Masonic
Hall, the building was used as a newspaper office and then a township and local meeting place. The stage was an indication
that many public gatherings were once held there, including plays, musical events and political meetings.
The upper floor, we learned,
was used as a court. The plumbing for an upstairs bathroom was still in place. And the maze of rooms included the old 1920s
style sliding windows that indicated the place may once have been a secret speakeasy during the days of prohibition.
That building had a history.
And the ghosts of the past were still hanging around.
Yes, we bought it. Aaron
C. Donahue couldn’t resist the place. He relishes being in the presence of spiritual entities, even the ones that go
bump in the night. And during some of the nights he worked in that building, things really went bump.
Not only bump, they make
loud crashing and booming noises that sometimes rattled the windows. Aaron told of seeing dark shadows fleeing across the
rooms, and actually meeting the former police chief and a few other long dead characters that appeared to him in visible form.
It was in this building
that Aaron evoked the 72 Spirits of the Goetia and used his PAN skills to draw their portraits.
After his work with the
spirits was completed, the building was sold and Aaron moved on. Before he left, however, the roof was repaired, the downspouts
were replaced, and enough work was done on the building to remove it from condemnation.
The building remains
just as haunted.