A former masonic lodge in Southland is transformed

by Mike White / 04 April, 2019
Photography by Mike White.
Steve and Kelly Taylor’s lounge was once the lodge’s banquet hall.

Steve and Kelly Taylor’s lounge was once the lodge’s banquet hall.

A tattooist is now the Grand Master of a former masonic lodge in Lumsden.

“Where’s Lumsden?” Steve Taylor asked his friend 10 years ago, while sitting in Arrowtown, flicking through a real estate magazine. “About an hour south,” the friend replied. Taylor pointed to a photo in the magazine and said, “I’ve got to go and have a look at this place.”

It was Lumsden’s Masonic Lodge, built in 1907, which at its height had 200 members across Southland. But numbers dwindled and eventually “Lodge Taringatura, No. 100” closed, and the building was put up for sale. “I walked in here,” remembers Taylor, “and thought, ‘Faaark, I’ve gotta have this.’”

He sat on it for a few years, but in 2010 shifted down from Matakana with wife Kelly and began creating something unique – decorating the lodge with a lifetime of treasures, including his car and motorbike collection. The banquet hall (known by some masons as the “refectory”) is now their expansive lounge with two bedrooms built into it; there are gilt flying cherubs, antique clocks, leatherbound books, and a mural that’s been painted onto the corniced ceiling. The men’s urinal has become their bathroom, the women’s toilet their laundry.

Read more: More to Southland than meets the eyeInside the close-knit community that lives along the Cromwell-Tarras Rd

Kelly roasting ROAR coffee.

Kelly roasting ROAR coffee.

Taylor runs his tattooing studio from the old cloakroom, and is booked up for months. Kelly began her ROAR coffee business, which she thinks is the southernmost coffee roastery in the world, in another alcove. She supplies cafes throughout the region and locals via an honesty box at their front door.

The huge main room where the masons’ ceremonies took place remains largely untouched, though there’s a bed set up for Taylor’s son when he comes to stay, and the couple put on private music concerts there.

Women in the community who’ve visited are delighted they can finally enter the old lodge’s male-only inner sanctum – traditionally, they were allowed only into the back of the building, to do the cooking. Some have donated their husband’s masonic paraphernalia, including aprons and swords.

“I bought it on a whim,” says Taylor. “It was just a cool building, and we’ve turned it into our home. And it’s absolutely just beautiful.”        

This article was first published in the February 2019 issue of North & South.

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