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Scottish Rite Temple, Washington, D.C.

: The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry's House of the Temple at 1733 16th Street, NW in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C., United States that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. (officially, "Home of The Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Washington D.C., U.S.A.")

It is located at 1733 16th Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The full name of the Supreme Council is "The Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America."


On May 31, 1911, 110 years after the founding of the Supreme Council, Grand Commander James D. Richardson broke ground on the spot where the House of the Temple now stands in Washington, D.C. Grand Master J. Claude Keiper, of the Grand Lodge of the District of Colombia, laid the cornerstone in the northeast corner on October 18, 1911.[1]
Facade of the House of the Temple

The temple was designed by noted architect John Russell Pope, who modeled it after the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.[2] The building was dedicated four years later on October 18, 1915.

The building's design was widely praised by contemporary architects, and it won Pope the Gold Medal of the Architectural League of New York in 1917. In his 1920 book L'Architecture aux Etatis-Unis, French architect Jacques Gréber described it as "a monument of remarkable sumptuousness ... the ensemble is an admirable study of antique architecture stamped with a powerful dignity." Fiske Kimball's 1928 book American Architecture describes it as "an example of the triumph of classical form in America". In the 1920s, a panel of architects named it "one of the three best public buildings" in the United States, along with the Nebraska State Capitol and the Pan-American Union headquarters building in Washington, D.C. In 1932, it was ranked as one of the ten top buildings in the country in a poll of federal government architects.[3]

Confederate general and former Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike was the author of an 1871 book called Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, a book that describes in detail the 33 ranks of Freemasonry, the stories and teachings associated with each rank, the rituals connected to each rank, and other lodge proceedings. In 1944, the remains of Albert Pike were removed from Oak Hill Cemetery in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC and placed in the House of the Temple. The remains of Past Grand Commander John Henry Cowles were entombed in the temple in 1952, after his 31 year reign as Grand Commander. The Temple also holds one of the largest collections of materials related to Scottish poet and Freemason Robert Burns in its library, the first public library in Washington, D.C.[2]
Temple at night

The House of the Temple is designated as a contributing property to the Sixteenth Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[4]

Since 1990, the temple has hosted a community garden on its grounds. The Temple Garden occupies about 0.25-acre (1,000 m2), divided into about 70 small plots worked by nearby residents.[5]
In popular culture

The House of the Temple appears in the sci-fi cult classic film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951). About one hour into the movie Klaatu, an extraterrestrial, causes all electricity on earth to cease. A Washington, D.C. motorcycle cop appears on the corner of 16th and S streets, N.W., vainly trying to start the engine, with the House of the Temple prominently in the background.

The building is the setting for several key scenes in the novel The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.[6]


1 ^ Bell, Debra. "The Freemasons in Washington". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
2 ^ a b Helwig, Anne H.; Ganschinietz, Suzanne (January 30, 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form" (PDF). National Capital Planning Commission. (National Park Service). Retrieved February 28, 2010.
3 ^ House of the Temple, The Supreme Council, 33°, A.A. & S.R. of Freemasonry, S.J., USA website, accessed June 18, 2010
4 ^ "16th Street Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
5 ^ "Plot Map". The Temple Garden. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
6 ^ Siegel, Robert (September 16, 2009). "Secret of the Masons: It's Not So Secret". All Things Considered (National Public Radio). Retrieved September 18, 2009.

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