Masonic Lodge to be Saved in an Exciting Public-Private Partnership

Photo courtesy of the Madison Eagle

Mayor Bob Conley and the entire Madison Council were excited to announce that Martin Heller, owner of the Heller Group, pledged $1 million to the borough that will go towards the purchase of the nearly 200 year old Madison Masonic Lodge on Main Street.

This purchase will not only preserve a historically significant building, but it will also enable the borough to renovate the building for use as a senior center and for other community programs, bringing important senior services back to the borough. The first floor will be dedicated as the Peggy Heller Senior Center of Madison in honor of Martin Heller’s late wife.

The effort from the borough to preserve the building that was built in 1824 as a Presbyterian church and had served as a Masonic lodge since the Masons purchased it in 1930, was long in the works. $600K in historic preservation grants had been secured by the borough, but it was not sufficient to bridge the gap in the cost for needed repairs and it was listed for sale in February 2023.

Instead, through the generosity of Heller and the work of the borough and council, the building will be preserved, restored, and include deed restrictions to ensure it will remain for the public good. An additional $125K from the Madison Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund will supplement the funds needed for restoration.

According to an article in the Madison Eagle Mayor Conley was quoted as saying:

It can be a challenge to save old buildings, and sometimes you need a “hero.” “Tonight, we have a hero,” he said.

“A modest but one of the most caring persons you will know, Martin Heller has been working to clean up the neighborhood with his business investments, and he now preserves our history,” said Conley. “This beautiful building will be forever a part of our streetscape and will forever be serving our community as a senior center, a home for nonprofits, and other community initiatives to support Madison.”

Martin Heller also took the opportunity at the October 11 Council meeting to acknowledge the partnership and hard work to make this happen, as quoted in the Eagle:

“I think it’s a marvel for the town to have this asset preserved for perpetuity,” Heller said. “I credit the mayor, the council and (Borough Administrator) Ray Codey, who negotiated with the Mason Lodge. It wasn’t easy because the price you’re getting is about one-third of what they were asking. It gives you the opportunity now to fix the building up, which it needs, but it’s a beautiful building, a great asset to the town and I’m proud to be part of the funding of it.”

Importantly at the meeting, the council voted to renew its shared service agreement with the Senior Center of the Chathams to continue to provide programming for Madison seniors.

The candidates for Mayor and Council in the November 7 general election, Mayor Bob Conley, Councilmembers Bob Landrigran and John Forte, and candidate Melissa Honohan pledge their commitment to the future of Madison. You can read more about their vision and priorities, hear from neighbors about their support in letters to the editor, and learn about each candidate’s background and experience.