DECATUR — Decatur’s Masonic Temple is full of history — and as the story goes, a few spirits.
The 90-year-old 224 W. William St. building is filled with architectural details and narratives to tell.
The community is invited to tour the historical building for the Haunted Tours of the Masonic Temple on Oct. 22 and 23. Tickets are $5 at the door for the basic tour, and $20 for the deluxe tour.
The Masonic Temple was often a stop during the Haunted Decatur tours during years past.
According to Bob Archer, fundraising coordinator for the Masonic Temple board, the building suffered a flood three years ago and had to be closed for repairs. “Then we decided to open up our own tour and conduct it ourselves, since we know more about the building than they do,” he said.
Funds from the tours will go towards the continued restoration. Repairs include painting, replacing the original carpeting, updating the kitchen to health codes. “And then you have the major things, the roof, the boiler system, the electrical, the plumbing,” Archer said.
The tours are expected to be15 to 20 minutes. “Depending on how many questions are asked,” Archer said.
The basic tour will include the basement and first level. The deluxe tour will lead the group into the second and third floors. “And we will be going around talking about the different spirits that reside here,” Archer said.
According to the volunteers, the spirits known to reside in the building include a couple in the large auditorium. The past performers make sure people know that they are still around, Archer said. “They like playing the piano and making sure the locker doors are shut,” he said. “They don’t like those doors open, because they get in the way.”
The tour will be led by volunteers discussing the history of the Decatur Masonic Temple and its connection with the city. The stories of the spirits are important to the tour, according to Archer. “Because they’re still here and they’re still taking care of us and making sure we’re not doing anything we’re not supposed to be doing,” he said. “Especially at night, they don’t like us in certain areas of the building.”
Although Decatur industrialist A.E. Staley isn’t one of the famous spirits still roaming the halls, he is important to the creation of the Masonic Temple. “He put in a significant portion of the funds to build the building,” Archer said.
Jerome R. Gorin was another historical Decatur figure with a connection to the building. Both men have ornate lounges dedicated to their contributions.
The board recently uncovered information regarding visits from John F. Kennedy before he became president and Vice President Walter Mondale.
The building was finished in 1929 with many of the same 1930s art deco pieces still in use. “We were so full of members back then, they had stuff going on every night of the week,” Archer said. “It is intrinsically connected to Decatur.”
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR