WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Plans to remodel and use the long-abandoned West Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club as a Freemasons’ lodge are the subject of a public hearing on Monday evening.
In April, the Great Barrington Masonic Temple Association Inc. applied for a special permit with the Planning Board to renovate the main lodge on the existing footprint.
The Great Barrington and West Stockbridge Masonic Lodges each plan to use the building for evening meetings once a week, as well as a monthly evening meeting “on or before the full moon, excluding July and August”, according to the permit application.
That’s nine meetings a month, according to the documents.
The lodges would also host five additional events each year, which could include “clam cooks, fishing derbies, steak cooks and outdoor activities.”
The app says traffic would be light, noise levels “respectful” and notes that alcohol consumption on the property is prohibited.
Masons also informed neighbors of events.
“Masons are renowned for being good neighbors – their core beliefs include brotherhood, charity and benevolence,” the app reads. “All meetings are quiet and respectful.”
Neighbors of the property, which includes direct access with a house, declined to comment on the plans.
The Great Barrington Masonic Temple purchased the five-acre property from the city in March for $120,506. It is valued by the appraiser’s office at $249,600.
The city had taken ownership of the West Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club Inc. in 2019 for a tax arrears of around $49,500 that dated back to 2005, according to a report by The Eagle.
This company was dissolved in 2012.
Besides the main club, other buildings on the property include two small picnic pavilions and two accessory structures.
It is unclear when the renovations will begin. A representative for the plaintiff did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The property is on Sportsmen’s Club Lane off Main Alford Road and adjoins state preservation land on one side, the Williams River on the other and private property whose residence is 350 feet from the main building of the club.
The application displays 10 nearby butters.
Its use as a Freemasons lodge will be less inconvenient to the city than its previous use as a social club, the app says.
“When the property was used as a sports club, members of the public would gather there late into the night to drink alcohol and have rowdy parties,” he says.
In 1972 it was sold for $1,500.
The Great Barrington Temple is originally based in Great Barrington and is also known as Cincinnatus Lodge, one of 23 in the United States founded by Paul Revere, according to the Massachusetts Freemasons website. It is the sister lodge of the West Stockbridge organization, known as Wisdom Lodge.
Wisdom Lodge, chartered in 1803, is the third oldest in western Massachusetts, according to the website. This is one of three “full moon” lodges in the area.
“Full Moon Lodges meet during or before a full moon and date back to a time when members traveled by horse-drawn carriage, horseback or on foot and needed the light of the moon to guide them,” the site says.
“Freemasonry, sometimes simply called Masonry, is the oldest and largest brotherhood in the world,” the website notes. “It aims to promote friendship, morality and brotherly love among its members – men of all races, religions, opinions and origins…”
The website says there are over three million members worldwide.