WILKES-BARRE — A state agency has awarded a grant to The Luzerne Foundation for the Irem Temple Restoration project.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission awarded $1.275 million in Keystone Preservation grants to help 28 historical and heritage organizations, museums and local governments spanning 19 counties.
Of that, an $80,000 grant was issued for the restoration of the Irem Temple, located on North Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre.
“For us to get $80,000 in this stage shows us how people really believe in the vision that we (the board) have for this building,” said Christian Wielage, a board member for the Irem Temple Restoration Project.
The Irem Temple was once home to the Shriners and also hosted community events.
The goal is to help return the main auditorium to its original configuration as a flat-floored hall. That would create a multi-use event space, allowing anything from weddings to farmers’ markets.
The rest of the building would be used as a museum to showcase how the American and Industrial revolutions played out in Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley.
“The grant money is going to be used in the fall, to make extremely crucial repairs before the winter,” Wielage said.
According to a press release, all grants require a 50-50 cash match and are awarded through a competitive process.
“The selected projects represent the breadth of historic resources that Pennsylvanians value – from cornerstone buildings in their downtowns, to covered bridges and significant archaeological sites,” said PHMC Executive Director Andrea Lowery.
“This investment ensures that Pennsylvania’s cultural memory will be preserved for future generations.”
Wielage said the public should expect announcements in the coming weeks. He also encourages people to follow the Irem Temple Restoration Project’s Facebook page and website, as it details the entire restoration plan.