Group To Find Cost of Fixing Up Irem Temple In Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE -- A group of people who have been working for a year to figure out how to restore the Irem Tremple in Wilkes-Barre met tonight with the public at the City Market and Cafe on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. It's the beginning of the efforts from a group wanting to restore the historic Irem Temple on North Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre, which closed a decade ago.

Some of the people at the meeting remembered the good times they had from when it was opened. This woman went to her daughter's dance recitals here.

"I thought it was an absolute wonderful experience to go inside the building and be in total awe of the workmanship inside," said Juliane Von Schmeling of Dallas.

Several younger people also came to the meeting, including 19-year-old Adam Ferrucci.

"I think it's really important we preserve our area's heritage," he said.

Members with the Irem Temple Restoration and Preservation Fund organized the meeting. They've been working for more than a year to bring the building back to life, and wanted to share their ideas with the public.

"You can put a boxing ring or wrestling ring in the middle of it and put bleachers on the sides, we talked about putting the farmers market in there during the winter," said  Christian Weilage, a board member.

The group is also raising money for emergency repairs. They estimate it would cost about $100,000 to figure out what needs to be fixed.

Historians say the significance of the building is in its architecture. It was built in 1907, when Wilkes-Barre was supplying coal for the industrial revolution.

"It shows you the wealth that we had at that one time, and it's important for any community in america to save their cultural heritage," said Wilkes-Barre City Councilman Tony Brooks.

There are four more meetings planned. The next one is set for January 4th. That meeting will be held online at 7:30 at night on GoToMeeting.


  • i quit..

    It is called getting price quotes. Contractors write them. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY $100,000 DO GET. Wonder who will pocket a little taste.

  • Liliana

    I love historic preservation…but it’s got to be SMART preservation. To preserve with no purpose just lands you back in the same dilapidated structure you started with because no income = no money to continue the preservation. I am not one to say bring on the demolition but there are many, many building in this area that need the wrecking ball. I hope that the folks trying to restore this Temple are being SMART about preserving it…if it can be saved.

  • Rurbanite

    A wonderful effort, and I wish them well. But these old buildings and churches thrived because they once had large numbers of members supporting them. The Shriners at Irem Tempke must have numbered in the thousands .., all civic-minded and professional people who were committed to spending many volunteer hours in the community. The former Methodist church across the street once had full houses on Sunday…it too, dwindled to a handful of members. The energy and numbers that once supported these institutions and their buildings have evaporated in a single generation. Until that civic fabric is restored, there is little hope of restoring these buildings to their former glory.

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