Meeks Buy Masonic Building for Upscale Jazz, Events Venue
By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—(August 5, 2014) Yvonne Meek recalls vividly the first time she and her husband Harris stepped into the Masonic Building at 509-511 Main Street in Montrose.
“This was when we first came to Montrose, 16 or 17 years ago,” Meek recalled. “The place was in such disrepair! It was dirty, and there were mice and rats. I felt such a kinship for this building, I wanted to buy it back then–but Harris was not necessarily on board at that point.”
On Tuesday, July 29, however, the Meeks finally closed on the property that Yvonne, a lifelong musician and events professional, fell in love with on that long ago day. The family has acquired a place in local history along with the purchase; the building itself was constructed in 1911 for $25,000 by Montrose Masonic Lodge #63, according to Authors Marilyn Cox and Cathleen Norman (Montrose Take a Closer Look-A Walking Tour Guide, Preservation Publishing 2006).
“To help finance the building, the Masons rented storefronts to a series of businesses, an arrangement common to many lodges,” the authors state, noting that among the Lodge’s early tenants were White, Young and Fliniau, Undertakers, who moved into the building in 1920.
“In 1924 the body of Chipeta, wife of Ute Indian Leader Ouray, was returned from the Utah Reservation to Montrose for burial south of town at what is now the Ute Indian Museum,” the book notes. “Chipeta’s body was brought to the White Mortuary.”
The building also served as a home for Montrose Masonic Lodge #63 until the Masons built their present Lodge at 188 Rose Lane in 1982. Part of the building’s appeal is the fact that the great hall remains intact, complete with the original stained-glass pergola, Meek said.
“Upstairs the space is about 6,000 square feet,” she said. “There is a front room that is about 1,500 square feet, and the main ballroom is about 3,000 square feet. I love it for the age, for the character, for the wood and stained glass, and because it is an old building that has been here for over 100 years.
“The hardwood floors are beautiful, the stairs creak, and the space just sings to me,” she said.
Soon, the song that Yvonne Meek has been listening to in her heart will waft onto Main Street, as she begins plans for an upscale nightclub in the upstairs space. Though she has no intention of displacing the building’s current tenants, the church that has been leasing the upstairs rooms is scheduled to move to a building of its own in September.
“They are renovating their own space, and I am trying to be sensitive to their needs,” Meek said. “I would love to be able to open in December, and to have a Christmas party maybe with some jazz, and a New Year’s Eve Party too. We will have a full bar in there, and eventually some type of kitchen, though that will take some time.”
Meek said that she plans to hire a house band and feature local musicians, but intends to draw talent from across the country as well.
“I am thinking of a martini bar, and bringing in the very best musicians I can bring in,” she said. “I want to appeal to an adult crowd; people who want to listen to good music.
“We will renovate as we go–we will do the floors and paint right away,” she added. “Tom Chamberlain is the lead architect; he has drawn plans and has been working with the City to make this as feasible as possible. Both he and the City have been phenomenal throughout the process! There are not a lot of major modifications that need to be done, we are mostly looking at aesthetics.”
Meek acknowledges that her vision is huge.
“It has to be restrained!” she laughed. “I am trying to be cautious, but not afraid to make it something really cool. The hardwood floors are so beautiful. The space is just gorgeous, and radiates so much character. It will be so awesome to have a music venue here, and space for small weddings and cultural events.
“I can envision it when the floors are re-finished, with music spilling out over Main Street, and amazing light from the open windows,” she said. “The street, normally quiet, will be full of life, radiant…such a groovy atmosphere!
“I have just kind of been attached to this building all along,” she said, “because I knew what it was destined to be.”