Who owns your Lodge's real estate and other property, really?

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by JohnnyFlotsam, Jan 25, 2011.

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Who owns your Lodge's real estate and other property?

  1. The Grand Lodge of which my Lodge is a member.

    9 vote(s)
    28.1%
  2. My Lodge.

    7 vote(s)
    21.9%
  3. Another Lodge.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. A seperate legal entity.

    16 vote(s)
    50.0%
  1. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    As our membership dwindles, revenue declines, and sadly, Lodges close, the question of who actually owns the Lodge's tangible property and real estate is being called into question. Some jurisdictions have these issues well defined (even though the majority of the Masons in some of those jurisdictions might be surprised at the terms), while others have yet to address it in formal and perhaps most importantly, consistent way.
     
  2. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    Grand Lodge can control it through your charter. Without the charter, the lodge doesn't exist and can't own property.

    That's how it was explained to me, anyway. In terms of going to court, I have no idea.
     
  3. Bro. Stewart P.M.

    Bro. Stewart P.M. Lead Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    Great question to which I have no answer.
     
  4. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    Here's your answer:

    Art. 340. Pemission to Acquire, Sell or Mortgage Lodge Property.

    B.(3) Title to real estate should be taken and held in the name of the Lodge.

    Now, if a Lodge should demise or otherwise become dormant, the Grand Lodge takes possession & title to all the Lodge's property & funds.

    Art. 255. (294). Records, Funds and Property of Dormant Lodges.

    When a Lodge becomes dormant, or for any reason ceases to function, all the books, charter, jewels, funds and other property of such Lodge shall be delivered to the District Deputy Grand Master of the district, or to any one whom the Grand Master may appoint to receive the same.

    Lodges may form non-profit organizations for the purpose of owning real estate, also. The building in which Holland #1 meets is under the control of the Masonic Building Association. I believe that a non-profit organization also holds title to the Masonic Library & Museum in College Station.

    Art. 339a. Formation of Texas Non-Profit Corporations.

    A Lodge may authorize by a vote of a majority of those of its members present at a Stated meeting, the formation by members of a Texas non-profit corporation for the purpose of establishing (including the acquisition of such real property and personal property from the Lodge and such other persons or entities as will be necessary from time to time), supporting and maintaining a museum and library to preserve the Masonic history and knowledge of its Lodge and other Masonic Lodges and bodies in the surrounding area, for historical research in Masonic history in such area, preservation of the archives of that Lodge and other Masonic Lodges and other Masonic bodies in that area, and provide for a museum to exhibit, display, and interpret Masonic history in that area, and applying to the Internal Revenue for a federal income tax exemption under Section 501 (c) (3) (or other applicable sections) of the Internal
    Revenue Code for such non-profit corporation and applying to the State of Texas for exemption from franchise tax, sales tax, or ad valorem taxes or any other applicable federal, state, or local taxes.

    However, any transfer, sale, or conveyance by that Lodge or any other Masonic Lodge or other Masonic body must be in conformance with the statutes of this Grand Lodge, including, without limitation, Article 340, Permission to Acquire, Sell, or Mortgage Lodge Property: Procedure, and such non-profit corporation at its formation must have a valid, legal and enforceable agreement with the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas that upon the demise of such non-profit corporation that all of its real and personal property shall be transferred to the Masonic Grand Lodge Library and Museum of Texas.

    Should the Lodge so approve certain of its members forming such non-profit corporation for such purposes, then the members of the Lodge may apply, in writing, to the Grand Lodge, or if during its vacation, the Grand Master, for written consent to form such non-profit corporation which will then apply for federal income tax exemption under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and such application to the Grand Lodge shall be accompanied by a full and complete plan for the establishment, support, and maintenance of the proposed library and museum, including, without limitation, the proposed Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, and the application to Internal Revenue Service for its federal income tax exemption and such other documents or information as may be requested. Upon receipt of such application, the Grand Master shall refer such application to the Committee on Civil Law for examination, report or recommendation thereon; such report being made to the Grand Master in vacation or at the next Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge, as the Grand Master may direct.

    If such non-profit corporation is formed upon consent being obtained, it shall not be an entity related to that Lodge but shall be a separate corporation of which its members at all times shall be Masons who are under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Texas. (Revised 2000)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  5. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    In our legal system, that would not work. GL can withdraw the charter and the lodge is no lodge anymore, but it is still a civil society, like a club, and its members have the sole power to determine what happens with the assets.

    Very few lodges have it written into their articles, that, after dissolving, all assets go to the GL, most lodges have non-masonic charitable organizations like the Red Cross as the receiver.
     
  6. relapse98

    relapse98 Registered User

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    You sure about that? I guess the question is who do the members belong to, their individual lodge or the GLoT?

    I will reference what's been happening to the Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese. A large portion of that diocese voted to break away from the Episcopal church over various issues. The Episcopal Church filed a lawsuit to regain control of the property of the 55 churches, diocese offices, a camp, etc. And at present, the local churches and the break away diocese has been order to evacuate the premises.
    Judge: Breakaway Episcopalians must surrender property | Front page | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

    I would say thats almost the same situation. What happened to the lodge in west Texas? Do they still meet there as a club or did GLoT take over the property?
     
  7. QPZIL

    QPZIL Premium Member

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    Our Masonic Temple houses 4 different blue lodges, OES, KT, SR, etc...

    There's a Temple Board with representatives from all the different lodges that meet to do any business regarding the property. Each lodge owns a share, but SR has a majority share. But, in the end, whatever the GL says to do with the property, we do.
     
  8. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    Bill Lins' quotes would suggest differently...
     
  9. tom268

    tom268 Registered User

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    Please look at my location. That's why I wrote in our legal system. Believe me, the german civil law is very different to yours. A mason is a member of his lodge, not the grand lodge. GL consists of 7 members, our 5 regular grand lodges plus 2 singular lodges, because a legal society needs a minimum of 7 members here.

    A few years ago, we even had a struggle, where GL tossed out a brother, but his lodge refused to revoke his membership. GL could only revoke his status as freemason, but not his membership to the lodge. Only the board of officers of the lodge can do that. Of course, the lodge pokered with their own charter. I don't know, how the problem was solved, but it was.
     
  10. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    Quite.

    And by the way, Bill, thank you for taking the time to post the relevant sections governing the issue in Texas.

    As I suspected, there is a disconnect between what the Texas Grand Lodge and at least some of it's member lodges understand to be the nature of the "ownership" of Lodge assets. This is certainly not unique to Texas, of course. Last I heard, the Lodge in which my father was raised is still in conflict over who gets the proceeds from the sale of their building.

    The point is that such conflicts are bound to become more frequent as more Lodge's meet their almost inevitable end and their surviving members are suddenly confronted with a reality that is somewhat different than what they had assumed it to be. For example, seeing a Lodge's endowed assets go, in toto, to the Grand Lodge rather than a particular charity or other alternative entity as directed by the donor's will might come as a most unwelcome surprise to those who had assumed otherwise.

    Clearly, forming a 501 (c) (3) non-profit (something of debatable legality in itself) to hold the assets of a Lodge will not shield it from seizure by the Grand Lodge upon the demise of that Lodge. I am not a lawyer, but it seems that the only way around this would be for an individual or group to form it's own entity, without the use of any Lodge assets and unaffiliated with Freemasonry, and lease property to a Lodge or Lodges. The assets of Rent-A-Temple, Inc., for example, would then be shielded from seizure.

    That such maneuvering might be required, or even needs to be contemplated, is, in a word, sad, but I don't want this thread to become a rant about Grand Lodge predation.
    I just want us to get a feel for what our Brothers believe to be the nature of the ownership of their Lodges' assets, and then, hopefully, shed a little light on what the rules actually are in those jurisdictions.
     
  11. Dave in Waco

    Dave in Waco Premium Member

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    It would probably depend on what arrangement they had for their meeting place, if they rented or owned it. If they owned it, it would depend on how they had the ownership set up. If they had a separate private company that actually owned their building or not. Technically, the GL could take possession of their regilia as well since their charter was revoked. Taking into account their past actions, getting anything back from them will be a fight.
     
  12. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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    The building and the property it sits upon are held in a trust by the landowner and is NOT considered Lodge property. The GLoTX cannot take possesion nor have claim to the property. (maybe the furniture, but that's it)!
     
  13. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    Hah, yea, I see that now. Forgot. My bad :)
     
  14. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    The lodge building where my (KY) lodge meets, is not owned by the lodge. The real estate, is owned by the "Masonic Temple Association", a non-profit stand-alone organization, which is NOT part of the Grand Lodge of KY. The craft lodge owns a percentage of the association, and the York Rite bodies own a percentage. The Eastern Star chapter is a non-voting member, and they get free use of the building for their activities.

    This is why it is so important for masons to be able to join organizations OUTSIDE of craft masonry, which are not controlled by the Grand Lodge.

    If my lodge ceased operations tomorrow, the grand Lodge is out of the loop. And that is the way it should be.
     
  15. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    They would do well to remember that, should they ever decide they would like to be reinstated, they will have to ask the Grand West, and any bad behavior exhibited during their demise will factor into the decision.

    ---------- Post added at 08:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:45 PM ----------

    Without mentioning any names or violating any confidences, could you elaborate?
     
  16. TexasAggieOfc1273

    TexasAggieOfc1273 Registered User

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    Well, I looked, at least from the legal aspect. The County Appraisal District shows that my Lodge is owned by my Lodge.
     
  17. jwardl

    jwardl Registered User

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    My lodge, #1174, owns our parking lot -- a big source of revenue, given our location.

    The lodge building rests upon property owned by the family of a passed brother, who had given the lodge a virtually free lease to the land so long as Masonic work is conducted on the property.
     
  18. Dave in Waco

    Dave in Waco Premium Member

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    That's a nice deal. I would see about trying to get some type of agreement with the family if the brother's children are not part of Masonry. I've seen many things that have passed onto the heirs of a brother who were not involved in Masonry lost. I would seek maybe even the possibility of the lodge buying the property or having some type of contingency on it should the heirs ever seek to sell it.
     
  19. jwardl

    jwardl Registered User

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    Why does the last post keep coming up as new?
     
  20. Benton

    Benton Premium Member

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    It's not, as far as I know. I believe the thread is getting bumped when someone votes in the poll.
     

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