The Sudan Shriners will vote Nov. 21, 2020, on a motion to raze its landmark Temple Devan at 403 E. Front St., which has gone unused since it was devastated by Hurricane Florence in September 2018.

Potentate Allen Brown

The 40,000-square-foot building, a New Bern landmark on the Neuse River waterfront since 1951, would cost $2 million to $3 million to repair and renovate, said Potentate Allen Brown, a Dunn resident who leads the 3,800-member group. A motion was made and seconded at the group’s September meeting and will be voted on by the full membership in November.

The existing building, known for its distinctive Middle Eastern architecture, is valued at $1.75 million, according to Craven County records. It includes an auditorium, clubhouse, and general office, all built in 1951, along with 1.28 acres.

Another quarter-acre parcel, located at the corner of Broad and East Front streets, is valued at $205,000. It is used as a parking lot.

A larger parcel, located between East Front Street and the Neuse River, is 1.33 acres valued at $1.47 million. It is a grassy field with no structures, although there is a sidewalk and pedestrian railing along the waterfront that is a popular fishing spot. The parcel also includes a historic marker about the founder of New Bern.

The lodge also owns 0.63 of an acre just west of the temple that is used for parking by neighboring Craven County government buildings. That parcel is valued at $153,000.

There are proposals to build a new, smaller shrine on the existing property at Broad and East Front streets, or across East Front Street on riverfront property the Sudan Shriners own.

The shrine just marked the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Florence, which Brown said resulted in “total devastation” of the temple.

He said it has been a long process deciding what to do with the building, which is far larger than is currently needed.

The lodge was built when it had 13,000 members, Brown said. It now has 3,800 members.

Also, to resurrect the old building would require extensive renovation to its electrical and plumbing systems, a new elevator, as well as other upgrades that could reach $3 million in cost, he said.

“We just need to move forward,” Brown said.

There is no timeline or specific plan, and won’t be until the full board makes its decision in November, Brown said.

If the decision is made to raze and replace the building, it will begin another long process involving proposals, plans, city permits and funding, he said.

An undated Google Streetview image shows the Broad Street side of Temple Divan of the Sudan Shriners in New Bern.
A Google Maps satellite view shows the Temple Devan, with the white roof on the left side of this photo, its parking lot, and the grassy field the shrine owns across East Front Street along the Neuse River.

3 Comments

  1. The good works done there will never be forgotten.

  2. I’ve been a builder on the Outer Banks for forty years. Moved to Havelock in 1964. This building is one of the first things I saw coming into the area. Made quite an impression on me. Out here, over 40 years, I’ve seen building after building torn down and replaced. I can’t tell you how many people comment that they wished they had restored the old ones instead. They whole place has lost the character that everyone once cherished so deeply. I’ll personally ask that you strongly consider keeping the charm of New Bern alive!

  3. This building holds so much history and memories. I can’t imagine it not being there. I pray that y’all really think long and hard before it is taking down!

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