Masonic Temple's Champion Discusses Landmark's FuturePosted: Updated:
When Garrett McCarthy bought the old Masonic Temple in 2011, the building was on the brink.
"It was very much so in danger of becoming another parking lot in the city. It was that close," he said.
The city was foreclosing for back taxes.
And while many in the community admired the building's classic architecture, McCarthy said, "People with resources just seemed to be on the sidelines, observing but not willing to step forward. So, I was the wild card. I was the artist who had nothing to lose."
The Henderson artist bought the building with his own money, drew up ambitious plans for restoration, including a performing arts center, and presented them around the community. His plan got a polite reception.
"There was some skepticism from the administration. Okay, complete," he said.
But McCarthy never intended to own the building long term. He looked long and hard for new owners with resources and found them in a Clayton company that has since stabilized the building.
"And already, what they've done, they've proven themselves. The temple's in fine hands with Fourth Coast," he said.
That has set the stage for this week's announcement that the building will be the centerpiece of a $10 million downtown revitalization plan.
When the performing arts center opens, it may have a special guest.
"When this building's converted into the performing arts center, I'm the first person on this stage," said Governor Andrew Cuomo during his visit to Watertown on Wednesday.
There'll be another special guest, too.
"I will be there for that," said McCarthy.