WAYNE — A local nonprofit group has purchased the three-story building built in 1863 that served as a Masonic Hall for more than 100 years, but that has sat largely unused for the last few years.

The group, Sustain Wayne, purchased the structure on May 10 after raising $40,000 from more than 40 local families, said Executive Director Margot Gyorgy. The building’s last owner was a seasonal resident who lives in California and held a flea market there once a year, Gyorgy added.

The Masonic Hall sits on the edge of the Mill Pond in downtown Wayne and requires considerable renovations. Its floor is sagging. It lacks electricity, insulation, plumbing and a septic system. Several ash trees stand dangerously close to it, and one even fell on the building a few weeks ago, though it did no damage.

But Sustain Wayne is now preparing to launch a capital fundraising campaign to renovate the hall and convert it into a community space that includes a teaching kitchen, a performance stage, a gallery space and meeting rooms.

“We really thought the time was now,” said Dean Gyorgy, Margot’s husband, who sits on the Sustain Wayne board.

Sustain Wayne formed in 2012, and those proposed amenities for the hall would further the group’s goals of supporting the town’s economy, building a local food system, promoting energy efficiency, preserving the environment and creating a sense of community for Wayne residents.

Dean Gyorgy runs his own digital media consulting business and has created videos about the Masonic Hall and three-dimensional renderings of the additions they’d like to make to it.

The Gyorgys live on the opposite side of the Mill Pond, and Dean, in his research of the history of the area, found that Holman Johnson built the Masonic Hall in 1863 after a great fire burned down many of the other structures on the east side of the pond, including a woolen mill.

“This project is saving the last piece of Wayne’s industrial past,” Dean said.

It’s also preserving more recent memories of the Masonic Hall, which local Freemasons actively used until the 1980s, Dean said.

A poster still hangs on the third floor of the building indicating how much blood the Hall’s members had donated as part of a blood bank program run by the Grand Lodge of Maine.

The third floor is also where the Freemasons held their meetings, and according to the vision laid out by members of Sustain Wayne, that space could be used as a theater and meeting venue. The group regularly holds talks on topics such as solar power, gardening and sustainable development.

On the second floor, the group would like to construct classrooms, artisan spaces and galleries, Margot Gyorgy said.

They’d like to convert the first floor into a working kitchen that food producers could pay to use and where workshops could be held.

Besides preserving a piece of Wayne history, the group also hopes the new space will bring more people downtown and appeal to a younger set of potential residents.

“We really see Wayne as at a point where it will continue to grow and attract young families,” Margot said.

But the group’s members recognize how much fundraising will be required to renovate the Masonic Hall, and they soon plan to launch a capital campaign. They will be seeking local donations and also applying for grants related to historical preservation and local food production.

The group will be holding an open house at the Masonic Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. They will also open the hall at the same time for the rest of summer, Margot said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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