Kathy and Tracy Dancer are working to restore the former Scottish Rite Temple building in historic downtown Fort Scott.
“We bought it at the Bourbon County Tax sale in January 2022 for $20,000,” Kathy said. “That’s when we saw the opportunity to purchase it at the sale. We had been trying for years to contact the former owner, who purchased it from the Mason’s.”
The 12,000 square foot building that has been vacant for about 10 years is getting a electric update, Kathy said.
“Kudos to the Masons,” she said. “They took took good care of the building…the water and most of the electric were taken care of.”
The Dancers have plans for a cafe in the area that people might remember as where the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs prepared and served their meals they sold the public as fundraisers.
Even before that recent use, there was a cafe there.
“The Cohen Cafe, before 1948, had a cafe in the space,” she said.
The Dancers plan to have the cafe open for breakfast and lunch service in that same space, possibly in spring 2023. “We are waiting for state approval for construction to begin.”
“We want to focus on locally produced in the region fruits, veggies and meat as much as possible,” she said.
They are also planning on having a retail incubator.
“We also hope to put a micro-retail space for 6 to 8 businesses in one large section,” she said. “Handcrafted goods: jewelry, popcorn, custom home decor, furniture (for example). With a central check-out. People won’t have to man their space.”
“I need more approvals for this project,” she said. “It will focus on locally produced goods as much as possible.”
She said her husband is working through the process of getting a distillers license. “To have bourbon crafted and aged in Bourbon County,” she said.
“We are starting with the ground floor first, it will take time,” Kathy said. “I’m guestimating five years to complete.”
The beautiful theater in the building is a question mark.
“We don’t know what we are going to do with the theater,” she said.