Landmarks Preservation Commission approves Bushwick Masonic lodge’s residential makeover

January 19, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This design shows an addition planned for the top and rear of Ridgewood Lodge 710 in Bushwick. Rendering by ND Architecture & Design via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
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A Bushwick Masons’ lodge that was one of Brooklyn’s coolest indie concert venues — for a while — is a step closer to getting a residential makeover.

On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the owner’s plan to build an addition on the top and rear of the Masonic Temple at 1054 Bushwick Ave. and turn the iconic property into an apartment house.

The apartments will be rentals rather than condos, one of the owners told the Brooklyn Eagle after the vote.

The former Ridgewood Lodge 710, Free and Accepted Masons — that was its full name — belongs to an LLC with Yoel Wertzberger as managing member. The LLC purchased the property, which is on the corner of Gates Avenue, for $2 million in September 2014, city Finance Department records indicate.

Patricia Donskoy of ND Architecture & Design told commissioners at a public hearing at the LPC’s Lower Manhattan headquarters that “supplemental apartments” that would be constructed in the proposed addition to the building would generate revenue necessary to the redevelopment project’s financial success.

As the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported, a total of 28 apartments are planned for the building.

Ninety to 100 percent of the building’s windows are damaged or not fully closed, and the building is in need of  “immediate attention,” she said.

The front door is too damaged to be repaired, so a replica will be made.

The project’s lead architect, Nataliya Donskoy, also spoke at the hearing.

“It’s a very good project,” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said before the commissioners’ vote. “It’s great they’re planning to do this adaptive reuse.”

She and the other commissioners objected to the size and shape of new windows that the architecture firm proposed for the Gates Avenue façade of the building. The architects were told to work with LPC staffers to come up with a new window-construction plan that leaves more of the façade intact.

The Masonic lodge, which is Bushwick Avenue’s only Beaux-Arts building, was designated as an individual landmark in 2014. Constructed in 1919 to 1920 of buff-colored brick and rusticated stone, it has dramatic two-story windows and a front door flanked by Ionic columns. 

The “classically inspired” building, designed by architecture firm Koch & Wagner, is a prime example of “early 20th-Century neighborhood club architecture,” according to the LPC’s designation report about it.

The Mason’s Ridgewood Lodge disbanded in the first decade of the 21st Century — and cleared out of the building and joined the Astoria Lodge in Queens. After that, 1054 Bushwick Ave. was a popular venue for indie concerts and parties for several years.

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