On Wednesday morning, the old Masonic Lodge Building located at 107 W. Lincoln, began to be taken apart by demolition crews. Some of the more fragile sections of the building were removed first to make it safer for the workers to do their jobs. It will be a slow process as they methodically bring the building down. As citizens of Wellington know, there is fencing up around the northwest corner of Washington and Lincoln while the work is being done.
According to paperwork filed with the Kansas State Historical Society in 2002, the property was made eligible for listing with the state registry.
We spoke with Steven La Force, who did extensive work on both the interior and exterior of the old building. He was hired by the former owner Jan Paffendorf-Spevak.
He first noticed trouble with the the exterior work he did when he rebuilt a window turn piece and saw how rotten parts of the building had become. He also did work redoing boards higher up. Steven blames “earthquake damage” from all the recent seismic activity. He says despite the health problems Jan had, she still “did a pretty good job keeping the building up like she did. She and Richard tried.”
Unfortunately, with the ceiling collapse that occurred on the third floor, causing extensive damage to Jan’s living room and kitchen, the building was pretty much “a lost cause,” Steven says.
It was quite a building, Steven recalls. It still had its “original floor. The design and art work were mind-blowing because it was original." The elevator was still original, but had been rebuilt after Jan purchased the building. Steven says they "had a wiring issue in the elevator we never could resolve, with the interior light never able to work properly." He says he was “surprised the building was still standing when she moved out.”
Steven has mixed feelings about the building coming down. He wishes so many pieces inside could be salvaged. The elevator was still in good shape. He had greased it when he worked inside. Still, he is happy for the Regent Theater, just down the street, as eventually Lincoln Street will re-open once demolition is completed.
This is a developing story with more to be published in next week’s Wellington Daily News.