I thought I had dealt with my grief in anticipation of the demolition of the old Masonic Temple in Madison. Owners DeLon Mork and Randy Schaefer announced last September that they would take the wrecking ball to the derelict building. The Masons’ building had stood idle and unmaintained since its brief stint as the finest (some said too fine) restaurant in Madison in the mid-1990s. I had accepted the coming loss of this downtown landmark and prepared to move on.
But Monday, as dawn brought death to the Madison landmark, Mayor Roy Lindsay just had to say something stupid:
Mayor Roy Lindsay said that it was “history in the making,” adding that there was a time and a place for the structure, but today it was “time to move forward” [Jane Utecht, “Masons Comes Down,” Madison Daily Leader, 2015.04.27].
No, Roy, this was not history in the making. This was Madison unmaking history, smashing and burying history. The building did not somehow naturally outlive its rightful time and place all on its own. Madison failed to find the creativity and the resources and the will to say that this building could still have a place at the heart of the community. We had something historic, something impressive, something useful, and we let it go to waste.
Go ahead, “move forward.” But remember: contrary to Mayor Lindsay’s implication, this destruction was not fate. It was failure. Remember this failure, so other Lake County treasures are not neglected and left to die unnecessarily the way the Masonic Temple did on Monday.