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The 5:34 a.m. early morning sun catches the reflective surface of a modern office building as workers get underway for the final leg of the move of the Masonic Temple in Concord, Calif., Thursday, May 23, 2013. The Concord Historical Society purchased a lot next to the Galindo Home and Gardens where it will be restored over the next few years on Clayton Road. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

CONCORD -- The Concord Historical Society is asking for the public's help to raise $400,000 for its Museum and Resource Center at the Masonic Temple.

"The society has a sponsor that will match all donations up to a total of $200,000," said project co-chairman Lloyd Crenna. "Our goal is $400,000 and we have received $74,900 so far. That represents 19 percent of our goal."

That includes the match from the Betty Martin Barnes Trust. Barnes was a life member of the society and the daughter of local contractor Floyd Martin.

"I am confident we will reach our $400,000 goal," said Crenna, noting that the fundraising drive will continue through Dec. 31.

To help reach that goal, the society is working with Gloria Omania, who has volunteered her time and expertise during the donation drive, said Crenna. All donations will be tax deductible as allowed by law.

"We have worked long and hard to have a museum for the city of Concord," said Carol Longshore, president of the Concord Historical Society. "We have had to raise all the money ourselves. It's come from the community and the society. I am very proud of that."

The hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the society has made it possible to fully restore and open the 1857 Galindo House, which belonged to Ruth Galindo, a descendant of one of the city founder. The house had been boarded up until the society gave the public its first peek in 2011. It is now open for regular tours and will be part of the "history campus" when the History Museum and Resource Center at the Masonic Temple is complete.


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Funds raised by the nonprofit Concord Historical Society made it possible to move the 225-ton temple from its former Galindo Street location across Clayton Road to an undeveloped parcel of land next to the Galindo House.

The significant engineering project to move the building cost around $120,000. The parcel of land cost $350,000, and a new foundation for the building was another $85,000. A badly needed new roof -- completed before the rains began -- cost nearly $50,000.

"We've been raising money for six or seven years," said Longshore. "It's all our own funding. We have received none from the city."

The 1928 Masonic Temple will house the society's complete history collection, including documents and photographs that will be accessible by computer and made available to Concord residents, schools, scholars and the media.

The historic materials in the society's Resource Center were moved to a temporary space in the Farm Bureau Hall, but will be permanently relocated to the restored temple as soon as possible, probably late this year or in early 2015, said Crenna.

In addition to traditional museum activities, the temple's restored stage where Concord's native son jazz artist Dave Brubeck first performed will be leased for events such as weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations. The large hall once used as the city's dance hall from the 1930s through the 1960s will also be available to lease for special occasions, in an effort to make the Concord History Museum and Resource Center self-supporting.

Crenna said he is already getting calls from people wanting to reserve the dance floor -- considered to be one of the best in the state -- for rehearsals.

Also in the planning stages are educational programs being developed by educators who are Concord Historical Society board members that will be offered to schools.

But before the Concord History Museum and Resource Center can be opened, money must be raised and the city and county must sign off on the society's designs.

"People need to realize it is a complex, expensive project," said co-chairman Chuck Gabrysiak.

Along with rebuilding the two-story addition that was demolished when the temple was moved across the street, the society needs to decide on whether it wishes to put in a basement to store items it collects.

"We are a historical society so we are always going to have more stuff to collect," said Gabrysiak.

But more complicated than a decision by the board of directors on whether to build or not build a basement are meeting city ordinances for street grading, parking lot drainage, landscaping and lighting. And the city is looking at the impacts of the Galindo Home and the Masonic Temple History Museum and Resource Center as it comprises the "history campus."

"All of those kinds of things have to be completed and signed off by the city before (the Masonic Temple) can be occupied," said Gabrysiak.

He has been working with the city and the board to arrive at the best solution to meet everyone's concerns.

He said completion of the center "could be as short as a year," but could also be as long as five years before enough money is raised and plans and permits are sorted out.

In the meantime, everyone in the society agrees every dollar raised brings one day closer the completion of a project that will make Concord residents proud and provide a place for them to celebrate their heritage.

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