Freemasons fight City Hall

Everett’s plan for temple isn’t legal, they say

By Theresa Goffredo

Herald Writer

EVERETT — It turns out the 20 feet didn’t matter anyway.

So say members of the Ancient Scottish Rite of Freemasons, who claim the city planned on evicting them from their 91-year-old temple even if a planned $75 million special events center was moved to save the building.

The freemasons originally rejoiced when they heard the city was thinking about moving the events center 20 feet. The fraternal group thought the temple would be spared and they’d keep their meeting place.

But they now believe the city plans on evicting them and renting out the temple to other groups, no matter where the events center goes.

"Personally," temple officer Jerry Kunkle said of city leaders, "I don’t think they can be trusted."

The freemasons, who have met at their temple on Oakes Avenue for 78 years, made that claim and several others in legal documents filed in Snohomish County Superior Court Monday.

The documents could rekindle an issue supposedly put to rest Nov. 26 when the freemasons and six other property owners decided not to fight a legal battle with the city against its power of eminent domain. The city sued the downtown owners to condemn their buildings and remove them for public use.

That public use is the proposed arena for hockey and special events. Planned to be built at the corner of Hewitt Avenue and Broadway, the arena is expected to revitalize downtown Everett and provide local entertainment with 8,000 seats for hockey and 10,000 seats for concerts. The arena will be paid for largely by a state-mandated sales tax rebate.

The freemasons decided at that November hearing not to fight the condemnation process. But much has changed since then, including what will ultimately happen to the Scottish Rite Temple, said the freemasons’ attorney, Tom Adams.

Though the Everett council voted on Dec.12 to demolish the temple, Adams maintains in his legal motion that the city and public facilities district, set up to operate the arena once its built, still intends to lease the temple out for private use. The state constitution prohibits such an arrangement, Adams wrote.

"The planned use of the Scottish Rite Temple is entirely a private use," Adams wrote. "The fact that the lease/rental of the temple to private groups is accompanied by the city or PFD does not convert the private use to a public use. The use is the same use currently made of the property by the Scottish Rite."

Walter Tabler, of the Seattle law firm Graham &Dunne and hired by the city as lead counsel in condemnation process, didn’t return a phone call Tuesday. He has maintained the city has an obvious public use case.

Adams also claimed that because the public facilities district at one point suggested that the arena could be moved 20 feet to the save the Scottish temple, that means demolition of the temple isn’t necessary to build the arena. The city council went too far in condemning the Scottish temple, Adams wrote.

"Excess condemnation is the acquisition by the government through eminent domain of more property than is directly necessary for public improvement," Adams wrote. "Washington’s constitution prohibits excess condemnation."

Also, Adams claims, when the matter of whether to save the temple came up during the Dec. 12 city council hearing, the council made an "arbitrary and capricious" decision to demolish the temple because the council didn’t discuss the issue and didn’t allow any public testimony.

"It was evident to the casual observer that the city council had discussed and decided the issue among themselves, but not on the public record," Adams wrote.

The freemasons are asking for another hearing on the issue of whether the city can condemn their building for public use. That hearing is set for Dec.28.

You can call Herald Writer Theresa Goffredo at 425-339-3097

or send e-mail to

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian on I-5. Investigators were working to determine exactly what happened.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.