By Linda Lane
A newly-renovated facility is a real gem for people looking to host an event or rent a facility in the area. The Kalamazoo County Masonic Center, located at 4371 West U Ave. in Schoolcraft, spent $5,000 to renovate its rentable dining hall. The renovation included new padded chairs, resealed flooring, a refinished bar and fresh paint with new chair-rails and columns.
Jack Lem, newly elected president of the center, spearheaded the project. The improvements to the dining room earned Lem the Mason of the Year award in July.
The Masonic Center rents the use of the building for $350 for a Saturday night and can seat up to 125 guests. For a nominal fee, it offers full linen service and a fine dining atmosphere. Menus include a pasta bar or high-end fancy dinners, such as pork roulade or prime rib, thanks to the facility’s full commercial kitchen. Or guests can bring in their own food or potluck. The dining room also has a sound system and projector available. The center hopes to obtain a liquor license in the next year as well.
A wedding reception which might cost upwards of $15,000 at a local restaurant or hotel can be delivered for only $2-4,000 at the Center. One local family celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary there with 60 guests in attendance. Lem was able to deliver the function in just over $1,000 for the family.
As a 5O1-C-10 organization, the Masonic Center must pay property taxes on the facility, which is a primary motivation for the group’s willingness to rent to others. Anyone interested in finding events at the Kalamazoo County Masonic Center can find it on Facebook or contact Lem at 269-303-0007.
Besides his role as the center’s president, Lem wears other hats, most related to the operations of the building and its rental, including aesthetics committee director, rental hall manager, and marketing director.
While Lem runs his own power washing business today, he has substantial credentials in the food industry. He trained as a chef under the direction of Helmut Klett, head chef at Alpen Rose restaurant in Holland, and Alex Dobrowoloski, head chef at Gull Lake Country Club. He has worked in the food industry for over 12 years.
“This place is filled with retired contractors, plumbers, electricians—really men who have built our homes and fixed our cars over the years. They’re just a great group of guys who band together and support each other,” Jack Lem said.
While the Masons are steeped in rituals and symbols, their basic beliefs are courage, kindness and generosity. The Masons’ are also called Freemasons. Their mission is “Love your Brother, Help those in need, and Seek Truth.” While they are not a secret society, the Masons are a fraternity which believes that “each man has a duty to make life better, not just for himself, but for everyone.” They give scholarships to students, support other nonprofit groups doing good in the community and strongly support education. They have offered several dinners open to the public, including corned beef and cabbage in March and leg of lamb in April.
Anyone interested in finding events at the Kalamazoo County Masonic Center can find them on Facebook or renting the Masonic Center can contact Jack Lem at 269-303-0007.