White Covers Masonic Taxes

Days before a deadline that could have triggered an auction, Detroit’s historic Masonic Temple managed to pay off a big tax bill  – with help from Jack White.

The venue’s had some financial issues in the past year, previously facing shutoff notices from DTE Energy for non-payment before settling the matter in December.

But the association that owns the building also apparently fell behind on its taxes – to the tune of $142,000 – last year during a partnership with a management company the Temple is now suing.

White recently donated the balance of the taxes anonymously. The Masonic Temple Association disclosed his name when announcing it has renamed the venue’s Cathedral Theater the Jack White Theatre.

“Jack’s donation could not have come at a better time and we are eternally grateful to him for it,” Masonic Temple Association President Roger Sobran told the Detroit Free Press. “Jack’s magnanimous generosity and unflinching loyalty to this historic building and his Detroit roots is appreciated beyond words.”

White’s mother was an usher at the Temple, and his White Stripes played two sold-out shows at the Masonic in 2003. Ben Blackwell, White’s nephew and official archivist for the White Stripes, told the Free Press the shows held a special significance because they were in viewing distance of The Gold Dollar, a small defunct club where White had his first public performance opening for The Hentchmen in 1997.

The Temple Association isn’t out of the clear just yet as it faces a breach of contract countersuit from the management company Halberd Holdings LLC.

The Masons contend they were forced to terminate their agreement after Halberd “failed in its mission” to operate the venue, according to court documents obtained by the Detroit News.

“Halberd completely failed in its mission … resulting in promoters refusing to do business with the Masonic Temple, vendors refusing to provide services without upfront payment,” the suit says.

Halberd reportedly claims the Temple was already overwhelmed with $900,000 in debt with it stepped in to manage and the relationship quickly soured.