Bernard L. Blackwell, 33°
In the 55 years I have been a member of Scottish Rite, I have made many friends, met hundreds of wonderful people whom I would not have met otherwise, and have been honored to be a contributor to the charitable works we provide children across the United States of America.
But this year, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime, one that will not come again for me or perhaps even to our younger members. That opportunity is to become a substantial donor to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign. I have stepped forward and pledged in my will to sponsor the building of the Welcome Theatre, which will be named in my honor: The Bernard L. Blackwell Welcome Theatre.
Many of our members may be familiar with the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C., only 10 blocks from the White House. However, if you have not had the privilege of visiting this beautiful and historic building during your years of membership and service, allow me to give you just a few of the reasons why this Capital Campaign is so crucial to our organization—as well as to our nation’s history and to future generations.
The House of the Temple is nearly 100 years old, and was built by one of the most renowned architects in America, John Russell Pope. Pope built almost two dozen works that are already on the National Register of Historic Places, including the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art (West Building), and, perhaps most importantly, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
The Library, Archives, and Museum contain hundreds of rare and important books, manuscripts, photos, tintypes and other treasures, including our oldest book, Sermones de tempore et de sanctis (Sermons for Certain Times and Saints’ Days) by Albertus Magnus, dating all the way back to 1479.
The tomb of Albert Pike, the honorable author of our Scottish Rite rituals and of Morals and Dogma, is located within the House of the Temple.
The House of the Temple is also the repository for many rare and valuable Masonic treasures. For example, Bro. William Wallace Dudley was famous for his exquisite Masonic pocket watches, prized today by all collectors. We have the original prototype, handmade by Bro. Dudley before he had dies made to mass produce the pieces.
This magnificent building is located in the heart of our nation’s capital and contains an immense wealth of information and knowledge, along with many Masonic treasures. It must be updated and improved in order to cherish and protect the contents as well as the building itself. The public is welcome to enter our doors, a huge benefit to scholars, historians, and students across the globe.
Significant educational and historical opportunities reside here, but we have had no way to preserve our treasures effectively or even to promote the educational benefits to the public. In order for people to enjoy the architecture and the treasures we have worked for so many years to collect and protect, the entire infrastructure must be upgraded. The building is also in need of improved handicapped accessibility and restoration of the interior and exterior. In addition, there are literally hundreds of valuable and antique furnishings that are in desperate need of preservation and renovation.
You may have seen the articles about this campaign in the January/February issue of the Journal. But I am writing to encourage and even to urge you as strongly as possible, as loyal members of the Southern Jurisdiction, to give as generously as you can to this incredibly important endeavor. I particularly ask my fellow Georgia members to lead the way in this effort. You may give in many ways: in the form of a check, through your will or bequests, or by signing over an insurance policy, just to name a few. But please do give. Our legacy needs to be preserved, so the American people know of our efforts, our charitable works, and our achievements. Help make it your legacy too. For more information about ways to give, please contact the Development Office at 1–866-448–3773.
L. to r.: Mrs. Beverly Rainbolt, Ms. Barbara G. Golden, General Counsel, Ill. Bernard L. Blackwell, 33°, author of this article, and S. Douglas Lamb, at the Intendant of the Building and WSB Club reception held during the 2009 Biennial Session. Photo by Jeri E. Walker, Scottish Rite Journal Office.