A Time for Action

Photo of Grand Commander Ronald A. Seale, 33°

January-February 2011

Grand Commander’s Message

The House of the Temple, our magnificent headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction, is rapidly approaching its 100th anniversary. Designed by famed American architect John Russell Pope, inaugurated with solemn Masonic ceremonies in 1911, and completed in 1915 in the heart of Washington, D.C., the building rivals many other monuments and historic landmarks of the nation’s capital. It has been called “a marvel of architecture,” “a wonder in stone,” and “the spirit of the Scottish Rite captured for a moment in time.”

Since being elected and installed as Sovereign Grand Commander in October 2003, I have had the great honor to call the House of the Temple my second home. I have been blessed to walk the halls, examine the intricacies, and enjoy the craftsmanship of this extraordinary building over the past seven years. While its architectural greatness is truly striking, it is more importantly a testament to our ideals of human progress, liberty of thought, freedom of conscience, and equal rights.

Coming to work here every day has created a deeper appreciation of what the House of the Temple means to the Scottish Rite today and of its future potential. Every year, thousands of our fellow brethren and visitors from the general public come to behold the form and beauty of our fraternity’s ceremonial rooms, treasured symbols, ancient books, and prized artifacts. It is within these walls that our history is preserved, our message communicated, and our legacy remains eternal.

In the Fifteenth Degree, Zerrubbabel, prince of Jerusalem, describes his vision for a restored Temple and city, but is then asked, “Grand indeed is your picture of this monument and its architectural splendor, but what good would all of this be if, within it, are not the sacred treasures of the first Temple? What became of the treasures of the Temple?”

I have made it my utmost priority to ensure that those who inherit the legacy of our centennial do not ask, “What became of the treasures of the Temple?” I intend that the Temple remains operational as a testament to the history of our organization and to the innumerable ways that we have influenced the lives of so many across our nation and around the world. While it will continue to hold and preserve our treasures, we have not taken full advantage of its potential as an educational resource. It is our responsibility to protect this regal monument, symbolizing our every core belief and value, for ourselves, our grandchildren, and beyond.

To achieve all of this, I am proud to launch the “Rebuilding the Temple” campaign to save the House of the Temple and to make it a national Masonic center in Washington for both our Masonic brothers and the general public. The campaign name itself is symbolic in that it embodies the theme and values of both the 15th and 16th Degrees. Once completed, this undertaking will improve the House of the Temple’s overall structure and appearance, make it safer and more accessible to the public, preserve its artifacts, create a superior Museum, and develop educational programs and web-based initiatives. It will be in this building where our future members develop their commitment to the Scottish Rite and our fraternity finds its face for the 21st century.

Specifically, the campaign will focus on modernizing both the internal and external features of the building. To ensure the ultimate safety of all of our visitors, emergency exits, fire protection sprinklers and alarms, emergency generators, and security and lightning protection systems will be put in place throughout the building. Our beautiful original furniture, wood, iron, bronze, and stonework that still remain today will receive the restoration they so require. The building’s libraries, museums, and archives will also undergo improvements to ensure that all artifacts, books, and fraternal objects are displayed in appropriate settings and stored in proper environmental conditions.

Following the completion of the campaign, visitors of all ages will be able to learn about Freemasonry, our ideals, and our history by exploring the updated Temple through technology. Online educational programs will teach the general public about the intertwined history of America and Freemasonry. Also online, eligible Masons will be able to share information and communicate, creating even stronger ties throughout the fraternity.

It is a time for action. Necessary and long overdue alterations must be made to the Temple in order to ensure the preservation of our Masonic history and the promotion of Freemasonry to future generations. I hope that you will take to heart the needs of the House of the Temple. For more information on the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign, please contact our Grand Executive Director, Ill. William G. Sizemore, 33°, Grand Cross at wsizemore@scottishrite.org or 202-232-3579.