We are the first Masonic centre of its kind in Edinburgh, probably in Scotland, home to four lodges working under the Scottish constitution. Although we as an association are not controlled by Grand Lodge rules & regulations to run our affairs, however our constituent members are, but we run our building and are governed by our own bye-laws & constitution.
A basic story on how we all came to be however, this is one person’s interpretation and some things may not be accurate.
Around the late seventies, Lodge Dunedin after owning the Lodge building then known as The Morningside Halls, for around fifty years found it more and more difficult to maintain the premises at Morningside Drive and the members of the lodge got together to find a manageable situation to enable them to stay in the building in a financial situation. They approached a number of lodges in their quest to bring in tenants or partners.
The master plan was to get as many lodges to share the running costs to maintain a manageable situation. Various avenues ware investigated and after many meetings it was agreed with two other lodges, The Lodge of Light 1656 & Lodge Royal Thistle 1338, it was agreed to form a consortium of Lodges meeting in the same building sharing the running cost and relieving the financial pressure on any single lodge.
Established in 1979 the "Dunedin Masonic Society" (DMS) was created, with three lodges meeting on their respective night, so after an agreed sum paid to Lodge Dunedin the three lodges became joint owners sharing the costs. After much needed professional work by the skilled members of 1656 they all worked hard to bring the building up to a better standard for all.
Soon as a new consortium was formed this drew the attention of another lodge, The Lodge of Edinburgh St Andrew No48 a very old and established lodge showed much interest and after consulting the membership, 48 gave up there tenancy at Johnston Terrace the home of CLX and the lodge made The Morningside Halls there new and permanent home.
Soon after this the halls drew the attention of a commercial interest from a dance group known as Morningside Dance Academy who approached the now formed Dunedin Masonic Society and made an offer to rent the building in the times that was agreed by all constituent lodges as long as it did not interfere with the smooth running of the lodges, a rental was fixed and this was agreed by the committee and to this day we still have the dance group as our tenants.
As the years went by and the success of the consortium was becoming stronger it was not long before another lodge came a calling and made application to become part owners within this unique consortium in the early heights, enter Lodge of Brotherly love 1428. After renting halls from lodge Abbotsford at Morningside Road it was a better financial move to pay the agreed joining fee and becoming what was fast now growing into Edinburgh's only Masonic centre and even at this stage I don't think the constituent lodges were aware of what was unfolding and was fast turning into and just how successful things were becoming.
Tragedy struck the building in the mid 80s dry rot was found on the top floor wood structure and outside pointing on the stone work was urgently requiring attention but like everything in masonry help was to hand between the five owners, safflowers, joiners and stone masons came literary out of the woodwork and repaired the building.
Again more interest was drawn to the building and now enter in the mid nineties lodge St Clair 349 and again a lodge that rented from lodge Abbotsford. They also paid a sum that was agreeable to all constituent members and three became four, four became five and five, six probably to the disapproval of lodge Abbotsford but business is business, not that DMS enticed anyone to join them but the success was speaking volumes on its own merit.
This was a building that worked together the way it worked was as follows, each lodge paid a levy to the DMS, the DMS collected rent from the tenant the DMS supplied bar facilities and with all the profits collated together the gas electricity and overheads where paid by the DMS a formula that works to this date.
Trouble hit Lodge Abbotsford in the late 90's, the running cost of keeping a old building wind and water tight took its toll on 937 and they came to Morningside Drive not as an owner but as Tenants. Now this brings its own tasks because with tenants they require minimum standards and this fell on the responsibility off the DSM they had to change the way it was thinking and like all good landlords had to put its Tenants interest first in order to keep harmony. (To be continued.)
We are still very proud landlords to the Morningside Dance Academy run by dance Director Mrs Sonja Messer and her team. The academy has been tenants for over 25 years and we are very proud to be associated with the group.
Delivering a service out of school activities to the community of Morningside and beyond. The dance group are all very skilled dancers of Tap Ballet and Modern dance. The pupils sit credible exams and achieve national levels in the dance field.