Work started last week on the next phase of the restoration work on Cessnock's Freemasons Hall.
Since 2016 work has been under way to give the historic hall - built in 1907 and the home of Cessnock freemasonry ever since - a much-needed facelift.
It has been a work in progress ever since, both with council and in acquiring the necessary funding.
The first phase in 2016 included giving the exterior a fresh exterior paint job, its first in 43 years, and to replace the roof for the first time since its construction.
Funding issues for stage 2 were finally resolved this year when the Federal Government agreed to give the Freemasons $20,000 for the project through its Building Stronger Communities Grant. This was topped up in March when Freemasons NSW & ACT, the parent body of Freemasonry in NSW, granted a loan for the balance of the transformation project.
"This Hall as been a a part of Cessnock's skyline since 1907 and we cannot wait to bring the hall into the 21st century while also being proud of our shared history," said Mr Max Katz-Barber, Chairman of Freemasons Hall Cessnock
DA approval meant a number of local heritage issues had to be resolved, and also to repair much of the bulding structurally after it had been savaged by termites. This has meant work on this stage includes:
The works on this stage include:
- Complete new flooring system;
- New electrical;
- New plumbing;
- New commercial kitchen;
- New toilets with an addition for disabled toilets;
- New disabled-friendly access to the building;
- New air-conditioning,
- Restoration of ornate features in our main public hall (called "the South").
Mr Fred Beveridge, a long time director of the Freemasons Hall Cessnock said the works had been a long time in the making, but it was exciting now that the work was finally under way.
"Cessnock deserves a state of the art community space and once completed it will be a fitting home for Freemasonry to flourish in Cessnock," he said.