- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A group of Freemasons is trying to restore a Masonic Temple in Franklin that they say was the first three-story building constructed in Tennessee.

Craig Feldner, who is leader of Hiram Lodge No. 7, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1oaA1SB) that he hopes the building’s importance to the city and to U.S. history can drum up enough interest to save it.

They temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the place where President Andrew Jackson met with Chickasaw leaders in 1830 and the Native Americans signed a treaty giving up their lands.

“We think there’s as much history here as the Carter House or Carnton Plantation,” Feldner said.

The Freemasons are trying to raise about $4 million to renovate the entire building, including the third floor, which has been declared off-limits by city inspectors due to concerns about structural soundness.

“Our goal with this renovation is not to do patchwork but to make it last another 200 years,” Feldner said.

If the Masons can restore the building in Franklin, they hope change the perception of Freemasons as secretive and encourage more people to learn about the history of the meeting hall

“We want to share this building with the community,” Feldner said. “We think there’s so much history here that is unknown to the community that we want to make sure that it gets out and people can come in.”

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com