A disheveled but beautiful building that is integral to Florence will be the cause for an enclave of motorists cruising through the Flint Hills in April.
Masons want to raise about $50,000 to restore the historic Florentine Masonic Center building to its former glory in downtown Florence.
Les Allison, secretary of Masonic Lodge 114, said members planned the “Crystal Springs Motorcycle and Classic Car Run” as one way to help raise funds for the restoration.
“The lodge has met there continuously for more than 125 years,” he said. “It’s still safe, but we want to keep the building open for our use and community purposes, too.”
He said the fraternal organization values taking an active role in the community. They have offered scholarships to area students and donated money to people with medical problems.
“The mason’s are the oldest and largest fraternity in the world,” Allison said, “but unlike some people believe, we don’t control the universe.”
In the past, the building has served as a senior center, a space for a free cancer screening, food commodities distribution, and rental space for family events.
Allison said the deteriorating brick front needs to be repaired, floor joists and rugs in the first and second floors need work, and something needs to be done with the 20-year-old heating and cooling system.
“This building is an integral part of our small town’s Main St.,” Allison said. “We’d like to raise $50,000 in donations, but with a small community comes limited resources, so we wanted something that would draw outside people.”
Florence mayor Bob Gayle said the building is a beautiful example of architecture for the 1800’s.
“If for no other reason, I think the building should be saved for its architecture,” Gayle said. “When you walk in, it’s like going back in time. There are the old rotary switches on the walls and the tin roof. It has not really changed in a hundred years.
Gayle said he also supports events that bring more visibility to Florence.
“You never know, there is always the possibility that someone could come in and fall in love with our community,” he said. “It seems like this event could have a positive effect.”
Masons are hoping a panoramic ride through the Flint Hills will entice motorists to gather and mingle at their destination location.
“This isn’t a rally so there won’t be any prizes,” Allison said. “We’re just hoping people will enjoy a ride through the Flint Hills and have fun looking at each other’s cars and motorcycles.”
The car run starts at 7:30 a.m. April 17 with a breakfast at 417 Main St. Lunch will be served at 11:30 p.m. The event will be the third Sunday of every month until Sept. 18.
A suggested donation of $10 per meal will be accepted at each gathering, Allison said.
More information is available at (620) 366-0086, (316) 993-3463, or (620) 717-2112.