Why Rebuild the Temple?

Atrium of the House of the Temple

May-June 2011

The House of the Temple belongs to all Scottish Rite Masons in the Southern Jurisdiction. It is our duty to maintain and preserve this national Masonic treasure.

Bryce B. Hildreth, 33°

Why should I help rebuild the House of the Temple? I am sure many Scottish Rite Masons are asking themselves that very question. I hope that my thoughts and ideas may encourage each member to relate to and help in this worthwhile project. I am but one of many supporters who are dedicated to preserving our National Scottish Rite treasure, the House of the Temple.

One of our portals to the public is the buildings in which we meet. For Scottish Rite Masons that building or rallying place is the House of the Temple. The splendid majesty of this structure is known to those who have witnessed it in person. Walking up the three, five, seven, and nine steps between the two sphinxes Wisdom and Power and reading the carved inscription “Freemasonry builds its temples in the hearts of men and among nations” sets the stage for what is awaiting inside. Entering through the large bronze doors and into the atrium, you witness the greatness of this structure. Up the grand staircase and into the temple room you are overcome by grandeur. The size and scale overwhelms the senses. It is refreshing to know that this is part of your life and that it will be preserved for generations to come. If you have not visited I encourage you to do so; it is impressive.

The House of the Temple belongs to us, the members of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. More importantly it belongs to America and history. The House of the Temple transcends just being “another Masonic building.” The treasures contained within the museums and libraries are irreplaceable and deserving of a place of security and preservation. The items in these collections are varied. Two of my favorite curiosities are the jewelry collection and the Burl’s Ives collection, especially his sword toothpick. The House of the Temple is a historic part of our nation’s capital and is the image of Scottish Rite to the world. There is no wonder why Dan Brown made it a central part of his book The Lost Symbol.

When I became a Mason I was astonished and proud at what Masonry does for charity. Yet, why was the carpet on the lodge room floor threadbare? Maybe we have forgotten to take care of ourselves first? It is nice to say we give $2+ million a day to charity, but are we proud to take a friend or business associate to a Masonic Temple? These buildings are our public identity. This is why the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign is so vital at this time. The House of the Temple is the home of every Scottish Rite Freemason!

The lapse of time and, some would say, the hands of ignorance, have taken their toll on our home. In 2015 the House of the Temple will celebrate its centennial. It would be fantastic to unveil a totally restored and updated House of the Temple, with air conditioning, handicap accessibility, modern conveniences, and restored structure and furnishings. To the casual observer it may seem that the building is in suitable repair and just in need of some cosmetic surgery. Such is not the case. To just put on a new face without fixing the internal structure, would only cost more in the future and would continue the path of corrosion and slow decay. Ten years ago this project probably should have been started, but we dare not wait another ten years. Then we would have nothing but bandages and leaking gauze around a national treasure.

The time is now and your help is needed!

It is my pleasure to support the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign, not only by my personal financial contributions, but by encouraging others. My family and I have supported Scottish Rite charities for many years. We do not easily write out a check for any cause or to just any charity. The Supreme Council has shown great prudence and caution in seeking contributions and in how they are invested and used. Frankly, we trust them with our donations. Of the major charities to which we give, their expenses for administration and fundraising are very low, meaning more actual dollars go to the cause and not to employees, public relations, etc.

While one does not necessarily give to charity for recognition, the Supreme Council is excellent at thanking its contributors; they make you feel good for giving. Being a 501(c)(3) foundation, contributions to the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc. are tax deductible.

Like every member, we have a vested stake in the future of the Scottish Rite. The time now requires more than talk, but action. There are many ways to help, but the most needed are cash donations. There are several ways to donate; I have chosen to give stock over the next five years. This reduces my taxable gains and helps the Rebuilding the Temple campaign in a win-win situation. The Scottish Rite development office is very friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. They can assist interested donors look at many options to help rebuild the House of the Temple.

The House of the Temple is our home as Scottish Rite Freemasons. Our home needs some repairs. Together, as brothers and friends, we can restore and preserve our home for future generations. When the day is gone and the year is spent, will those in the future look back and see leadership and action or apathy and excuses? It is for us to determine today.

Please join me in being generous to the Rebuilding the House of the Temple Campaign. 

Click here for a listing of Naming Opportunties

For more information, please contact the Development Office at 866–748–3227 (toll-free) or developmentoffice@scottishrite.org.


Bryce B Hildreth is a member of the Valley of Des Moines, Iowa, Past Grand Commander, Grand Commandery K.T. of Iowa, and Past Junior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge A.F.&A.M. of Iowa.