Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

There's a parking lot yet to be paved and some landscaping to be done, but other than that the brand new Crescent City Masonic Lodge at Ninth and B streets is nearing completion after a fire ravaged the original building June 29, 2012.

And general contractor George Mayer of G R Construction couldn't have been prouder as he gave a tour Thursday of the new building to about 20 members of the Crescent City Women's Club.

As they congregated in the banquet room with a 250-seat capacity prior to the tour, the oohs and aahs were audible. As they approached the kitchen, however, the appreciation was palpable.

"I'll bet there's not another kitchen in Del Norte County as nice as this one," said Jean Yarbrough, a Women's Club member. "This is beautiful."

The 32-by-24-foot, state-of-the-art commercial-grade kitchen boasts all stainless steel equipment, including two spacious refrigerators and a freezer, a multi-burner range top, deep sinks and expansive table tops for preparing food for a large crowd.

"It's a whiz-bang kitchen," said John Pricer, master of the Crescent Lodge #45 Free and Accepted Masons, who was on hand Thursday to help answer questions.

"We're hoping for an April ribbon-cutting," a year after the ground-breaking ceremony, he said, "so we're just keeping our fingers crossed." And according to George, a cornerstone ceremony will take place in August.

The Masonic Lodge presence in Crescent City dates back to the mid-1800s. Before moving to Ninth Street, the lodge was located at Second and G streets, according to Del Norte County Historical Society Museum records.

The fire in 2012 took more than just a building. Gone are many irreplaceable photos, journals, paintings of past public officials and members, mementos, records both modern and historical, books, regalia, working tools - many of which dated to about 1854 - and memories of weddings, memorials and meetings that have taken place there since it was built in the 1950s.

"We spent a lot of time here," said Crescent City Women's Club President Faith Crist. "We lost a lot of supplies when the place burned down."

"It's a shame it burned down, but isn't it wonderful?" said Dorothy McNertney, as she checked out the new digs. Living across the street from the lodge for more than 40 years, she said she had watched the first one being built.

Today's building is all up to code, complete with fire sprinklers throughout, a security system and lots of modern lighting, according to John.

"It's just a super new building," he said.

"I love the doors," commented one Women's Club member. Made of mahogany, the sturdy doors add a custom flair, as well as the alder trim throughout.

The "Lodge Room" where ceremonies will take place, as well as the Mason's monthly meetings, is large but cozy with carpeting and a soft blue ceiling illuminated by indirect lighting.

The old building had a partial second floor where offices were kept. Now it's all on one floor, expanded by about 3,000 square feet from its original space of approximately 7,000 square feet.

Things seem to be off to a good start. The banquet hall has already been rented for a Del Norte High School 30-year reunion in July. And to help with the general maintenance costs, the Masons have rented out space for a Farmers Insurance office on the east end of the building.

"It's really beautiful, big and open and brand new. It'll be a really good facility for the community to use for dances, weddings and such. We hope we can bring back as many good memories as there were back then," said John.

For information about facility use, call John at 487-4058.