Message from the President
Brothers, Sisters, Prince Hall Family and Friends,
To open, I say Thank You to those who confidently put faith in me and voted for me as President of the Prince Hall Temple Association. I am honored. There are some who ask why take on the extra burden, to them who understand Masonry they know that as a Mason the primary goal is to become a better man; to walk this path as a member of a team, as a member who strives for perfection in his role, who advances his community and leaves behind an infrastructure that will enable future generations to achieve perfection with less effort and having witnessed many role models.
Our property in Roscoe, is part of our Masonic legacy in the state of New York, an infrastructure in decay at the treetop, but with strong roots. With a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of caring, we can make this property an enabler for future generations to advance the cause of making the world a more just and positive place. In the future a young man or young woman will share their memoir and included will be a section that shares an important event in their life took place at the Prince Hall Masons property in Roscoe NY, called Camp Eureka.
Our goal at this re-birth is to prepare a place, where we enable groups to stay together overnight and as a result they will build stronger relationships. Have you ever noticed there is a difference in how you connect with people when an overnight is involved? We need to enable that kind of bonding between people.
Overnight opportunities are the pinnacle of what we will grow to achieve on the property, but there will be single day events and tourism opportunities which will fill out the full use of the property.
We have a lot of work to do on many fronts:
• Not spending all the money that we have and working to insure expenses do not exceed our revenue.
• Maintaining and improving the infrastructure of our property
• Building a place where tourism can be a source of income/revenue and pride
• Building upon the vision of the camp, as a place where the strength of overnight connections flourish
Our Grandmaster and now Vice President of the Board of Directors shared that the PHTA board is a working board and the members are a good group, and in less than 30 days since the election in September with some members being renewed and a few members being added, they have shown the willingness to work, and I hope that we will guide the Prince Hall Temple Association to prosperity, wealth and health.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Bro. John R Hill, Jr.
The subject property consists of approximately 700 acres in Delaware and Sullivan Counties. It has extraordinary scenic beauty and features significant frontage on the Beaverkill River, one of the nation’s premier trout fishing rivers. Situated on the property is a 36 room castle. Planned as a summer retreat from City life, it was built by Ralph Wurts-Dundas, a reclusive millionaire who in 1910 designed it as a replicate of Charlotte Square Castle, a Scottish Castle built in the eighteenth century in Edinburgh Scotland. All materials except for the stonework which was taken from the Beaverkill river, were imported including the wrought iron gates from France, marble for floors and stairs from Italy and tons of nearly one to two inch thick roofing slate from England. The castle’s estimated cost to build in 1910 was between $500K and one million. The Wurts Dundas family never occupied the castle. In 1921 Ralph Dundas died, followed by his wife a year later. The property was purchased for $49,000 in 1949 by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. The Prince Hall Temple Associates (PHTA) was established to oversee and manage the property.
After the purchase of the property, Grand Master Louis Fair dedicated the property as the Prince Hall Home and Resort. Several multi dwelling housing units and recreation centers were built for the Prince Hall members, family and friends. In the summer of 1955, a boys and girls camp was established under the supervision of Eureka Grand Chapter Prince Hall Order of the Eastern Star. A dining and recreation hall was built in 1960 along with several lodging dormitories. The camp was renovated in 1990 with several new buildings and the addition of a swimming pool. Camp Eureka operated two summer sessions with a capacity of 200 campers per session. The remainder of the property, which contains eight other buildings including a former boarding house, has been used for meetings and retreats as well as recreational hunting and fishing.
A major issue is that the castle is now in a state of disrepair; while structurally sound, many improvements need to be made including electrical and plumbing, windows and landscaping. Another issue is that a majority of the property is currently enrolled in a 10 year rolling term 480a Forest Tax Law abatement program whereby PHTA is required to comply with a forestry management and crop production schedule in exchange for real estate tax abatements. (See Exhibit A). PHTA plans to terminate participation in this program. Because of PHTA’s tax exempt status, it may have to pay a termination penalty which is calculated as equal to 2.5 times the annual taxes due, since 1997 when it first enrolled in the program.