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Historic directory from city landmark restored

The 1908 lobby sign cabinet was rescued from the 2010 Dunkirk Masonic Temple fire is now restored and installed at the Fredonia Masonic Temple.

Think there’s nothing left from Dunkirk’s Masonic Temple? Think again.

The directory board from the building was rescued, refurbished and is now on display at Fredonia’s Masonic Lodge. A massive fire destroyed Dunkirk’s temple, which dominated the section of Central Avenue near City Hall, in February 2010.

The board was in storage at the Fredonia Lodge, on East Main Street. “It was covered in soot and looked unsalvagable,” said Paul Scheeler, historian of the Forest Masonic Lodge that uses the building.

However, after 20 total hours of work by Scheeler and other Masons, the five feet high, 40-pound oak cabinet was ready for display. It is placed next to the main entrance to the dining room.

Scheeler is not sure who salvaged the directory board or who had it between the fire and its appearance at Fredonia’s lodge. He was not living in this area at the time of the fire.

“There was no explanation given to me,” he said. “It was just, like, there.”

David Ludemann, presiding officer of the Forest Masonic Lodge and a retired Fredonia Fire Department paramedic, said it was surprising there was anything left to salvage.

“You don’t often see wooden items survive fires of such intensity, especially with gold leaf on fragile glass like this — usually there’s nothing left but ashes and debris,” he said.

Ludemann added, “We’re glad to display this unique piece of fraternal history … where we know some of our lodge brothers from Dunkirk-Irondequoit Lodge No. 301, who now meet here since relocating from the Grange Hall, will recognize it from their earlier years in downtown Dunkirk.”

Scheeler also sees it as an example of the brotherhood between Masons.

“This is a gesture of kindness to say to them, ‘At least this will survive from your old home,'” he said.

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