Word emerged earlier this month that the Masons, owners of the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, had found a buyer for the 90,000 square foot building that spans the north side of Wilshire between Lucerne and Plymouth.
Today the LA Times is reporting more details about the sale of the building. According to the Times, Maurice and Paul Marciano – brothers and founders of Guess? Inc. – have purchased the temple for $8 Million and plan on bringing it to life as a private art museum. They will renovate and expect to have a functioning art museum sometime in the next few years.
The building opened as a grand meeting place for Los Angeles Scottish Rite Masons in 1961. In 1994, the Masons closed the temple due to declining membership and the building had various occupants until 2005 when the City revoked the building’s right of occupancy due to a tenant who was holding loud, late events at the venue – outside of agreements with the neighborhood.
John H. Welborne, Vice President for Planning and Land Use of the Windsor Square Association (the neighborhood in which the long-empty Scottish Rite Cathedral building is located) said the following about the Marciano Art Foundation museum project:
“For the surrounding community, the proposed legal use of the property should provide a great improvement compared to the present situation in which the owners abandoned their use of the building in 1994, except when they rented it to a concert promoter who used the building illegally in the early 2000s, until the City shut down the building and cancelled its Certificate of Occupancy as a consequence of the illegal use. What the new buyer proposes — a private art museum — is a listed, allowable use for this zone.
Over past months, Mr. Maurice Marciano and some of his staff and consultants have met personally with some immediately adjacent neighbors and with representatives of Windsor Square. The concept of a private art museum to house Paul and Maurice Marciano’s extensive collection of contemporary art is a concept that complies with allowable zoning in the Park Mile Specific Plan area (Wilshire Boulevard, from Highland to Wilton).
While the actual design details of converting the large auditorium and other interior spaces into large galleries to display art are only now developing, the initial concepts previously shared by Mr. Maurice Marciano (also a Trustee of MOCA) and his architects from the experienced art museum design firm of wHY Architecture are concepts that could appropriately adaptively reuse the interior of the 50-year-old building.
From what we understand of the extensive due diligence conducted by the new owner, there is extensive deferred maintenance which first must be addressed. In addition to air conditioning and elevator maintenance problems that have been rumored for decades, there appear to be significant waterproofing repairs, including of the vast roof and exterior stone walls, that must be made by the new owner.
As the Art Foundation continues its design development, we have been promised that there will be more information to share with the community. From everything we know now, the Greater Wilshire community, in general; and the Windsor Square residents of the adjacent blocks on Lucerne and Plymouth, in particular; will have a good new neighbor.”
Larchmont Buzz – The Design Story Behind the Scottish Rite Temple on Wilshire