The Masonic Temple building at the intersection of Carthage and Steele streets in downtown Sanford has been sold to a developer who plans to renovate the historic structure for both commercial and residential uses.
Cori McKee-Whipple and her husband David own Owls Nest Properties, which has been active locally with a few residential projects in recent months and closed on the Masonic building in December. McKee-Whipple lives in Apex, but “discovered” Sanford as she began looking for places to make real estate investments.
“The amazing thing that really tied me to Sanford is that you have so many historical buildings,” she said. “We’re really fortunate that we came to Sanford when we did. Things really just all aligned at the right time.”
An existing business in the building, Nunnery’s Shoe Shop, will remain, and McKee-Whipple says there are plans for commercial spaces including booth rentals on the street level and nine apartments on the upper floors. She also hopes to attract a “speakeasy” type establishment in the basement.
WRAL had a feature on the property Sunday with video and plenty of background information about the building’s history, and McKee-Whipple said that history is something she intends to preserve as work moves ahead. The company will be giving some items which are still in the building back to local Masons who remain active on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
According to the company’s website, Owls Nest is committed to “bringing properties that may have lost their hearts back to life.” That appears to be the case with the Masonic Temple.
“Owls don’t build nests, they reuse them,” McKee-Whipple said. “So we are looking for things that have been abandoned or neglected that we can bring back to life.”
Over our fifteen years of interest in Sanford’s history, and my personal Masonic experience from years ago in Louisiana; we have always been interested in the history and potential of Sanford’s Masonic Building as it awaited rescue.
Along with it’s local historic significance, the building itself is very attractive and holds such promise. These Masonic Temples, many of which were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries during a period of Masonic membership growth across America, are now often disused and sometimes challenging to repurpose due to their monumental, unique, and fundamental design. So we are very excited to hear about the plans for the Sanford Masonic Building and the exciting continuing positive impact it will have on downtown Sanford!
Thank you Owls Nest Properties for investing in historic downtown Sanford!
P.S. … while probably not practical, wouldn’t it be amazing to see the old neon Masonic sign hanging from the facade again?