Grand Lodge of Ireland Freemason's Hall - Case Study
Not all is lost when specialist are involved
How experience, expertise, and empathy brought an historic building back from the ashes
First thing first
Comprising of in-house underwriting, claims, and risk management specialists, Ecclesiastical knew that speed was of the essence in saving the historic fabric of the building and its contents. The fire was out but the damage from acidic soot residue had the potential to render permanently useless the historic furniture, paintings, and documents that are integral to the building and the heritage of the members.
As well as insurance expertise, the team included loss adjusters, a forensic engineer, Conservation Architect, and a cadre of skilled craftspeople to recover, repair, and reinstate the timber finishes and flooring, the decorative lath and plaster ceilings, ornate covings, and other plaster work. In addition, calendars, journals and some 50 volumes of handwritten masonic notes dating back to the 15th Century were among the historic books, manuscripts, and paintings rescued that chart the history of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.
Everyday risks managed every day
Ecclesiastical knows that everyday risks happen every day and can, on some days, tear asunder hundreds of years of heritage. That’s why they work with customers and their advisers before any insured event occurs. This advance work builds knowledge, mitigates risk, and aids a seamless recovery for when things do go wrong.
In this case, this advance work was both evident and impactful.
Several number of years prior to the incident, Ecclesiastical’s Risk Management team undertook a comprehensive review of the building’s insurance by working closely with the management team at the Grand Lodge and their insurance brokers, Arachas. This review identified risk improvements that could further protect the building and provide mitigation in the event of loss. This included monitoring of the fire alarm system and new measures to support general security of the premises, all of which came into play and resulted in the early raising of the alarm when fire broke out.
The review had other benefits which became factors in line with our overall philosophy to protect our customers. Appropriate sums insured were agreed and reviewed at regular intervals with a specialist architect nominated by the Customer. As a consequence, the Condition of Average was not a factor at the time of the loss as the sums insured were index linked at each subsequent renewal. Thus, the Policyholder received the full benefit of the policy in the aftermath of the blaze.
While some of the paintings and elements of the building were either damaged or destroyed, the rapid and comprehensive work of the insurer, the team of experts involved, and the customer themselves, meant that the building was returned to the magnificence of its origins and restored after the fire.
With restored paintings on the walls and outstanding conservation and restoration to the building and its contents, 17 to 18 Molesworth Steet was back to full use in late 2022. Home to the Grand Lodge and accessible to the public as a venue for conferences or a café, the building takes pride of place again on the street where it was built in 1860.
The team at Ecclesiastical, proudly part of the Benefact Group, were delighted to have played our part in the speedy restoration of this iconic building at the core of Dublin’s heritage heart.