WHAT do you do with a grand and historic building that is not being well utilised?
Warrnambool Freemasons have come up with a novel way of raising funds for charity by offering their imposing hall for lease.
Member Brad Miller said the idea was to sub-let a section of the Kepler Street building to a business or agency.
"Some people believe we could lease the whole thing out and move to another location, but that depends on the tenant and the interest we get."
Potential uses included a reception or function centre, a gallery or offices for a community or government agency.
Mr Miller said rental income would be used to supplement the Freemason's current fund-raising initiatives and help with maintenance costs.
"We've got a massive building there that's under-utilised and this is a smarter way of being able to give more money out to charity."
Mr Miller, who is principal with PRD Jens Gaunt, said his agency was now seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in leasing the property.
"Interest is high and we've had some good nibbles. We're open to all considerations."
Mr Miller said the hall was subject to heritage restrictions and a planning permit might be required for some proposals or developments.
The building features a kitchen, disabled access and toilet facilities, rear frontage to the Ozone carpark and a prime central business district location. It also has a liquor licence.
Member Darren Harris said the grand entrance and front hall, constructed in 1867, reflected the organisation's heritage when stonemasons built temples.
Later extensions created two more halls with the rearmost now used for the group's ceremonial-style meetings and other gatherings.
Mr Harris said membership peaked after the First World War when many returned soldiers joined seeking support, friendship and counselling.
Mr Miller predicted the concept would also raise the profile and awareness of the Freemasons Lodge.
"It's always been traditional and mistakenly shrouded in secrecy ... The people who are here are really good people and they're nice to be around."