Breaking Ground for the Future

Groundbreaking for the House of the Temple, May 31, 1911

Jeri E. Walker, Office of Development

This is a significant year for Scottish Rite Masons and the Supreme Council; 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the official groundbreaking ceremony for the building of the new House of the Temple on Sixteenth Street in Washington, D.C. On May 31, 1911, Grand Commander James D. Richardson turned “the first spade of earth in the building of the new Temple” (1911 Transactions, p. 124). The day was chosen in honor of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Supreme Council in Charleston, South Carolina. The ceremony marked the beginning of the work that would take four years to complete. On October 18, 1915, the magnificent House of the Temple was officially opened to great fanfare.

After all these many years, major renovations necessary to preserve this treasured building and fund raising efforts to finance this huge endeavor have begun in earnest. The task of raising $97 million dollars over the next five years seems quite daunting, but if you break it down a little, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Think about this: if every Scottish Rite member gave $500 cash to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign, we actually would exceed our goal! Five hundred dollars could be given in one lump sum or paid over several years, say $100 a year for five years—that’s less than the cost of one gallon of gasoline per week! Obviously, giving $500 is not easy for everyone. Many people can only afford to give a few dollars. But, all donations, large and small, are important to us. For example, a Mason recently sent a gift of two dollars to the Campaign because it was all he could afford. We deeply appreciate such a kind effort; he could have given that money to many other worthwhile causes, but he chose the House of the Temple. And his gift is as appreciated as much as the person who was able to donate $1,000.

Gifts to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign can be made in many ways. You can make a gift in cash or through a planned gift, such as a bequest in your will, an annuity, a trust, a life insurance policy, or a pledge. Planned giving allows you to manage your estate more efficiently while offering you the opportunity to provide for a beneficiary and give to a charitable cause. One popular way to give is through a pledge. Through the Scottish Rite Pledge Program, an individual may pledge to donate to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign a certain sum per year for a period of time or may make a pledge that will be satisfied through a specific bequest in the donor’s will or living trust.
Since we are conducting renovations currently and must pay the bills, cash gifts are vital. There are many projects that must be addressed immediately and that cannot be delayed. For instance, the elevators in the building are in need of major work. Because of their ages, some mechanical parts actually need to be custom fabricated. This is an area that cannot be put on the back burner while we raise money; it must be addressed now.

As we raise cash funds, our life safety projects are at the forefront of our renovation projects. New smoke detectors and fire alarm speaker/strobes were installed on all levels of the building. Video detection cameras were installed in the Temple Room and in the Grand Staircase that use a special algorithm to check the air for particles created by smoke and fire. Tests conducted on the ductwork revealed leaks, so alternate liners must now be inserted to transfer air. The building’s boiler plant in the mechanical room is in need of new energy efficient equipment to replace the old boilers, and new air handling units need to be installed to heat and cool the Temple Room, Atrium, and Banquet Hall. And the list goes on.

Fundraising efforts are proceeding through programs that include bequests, annuities, pledges, and cash gifts. Recently, the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign received a bequest of $1,000,000 from a generous donor. A $100,000 cash pledge, to be paid in equal amounts over a five-year period, was also received. In addition, the January-February 2011 issue of the Scottish Rite Journal, which focused on the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign, raised more than $40,000 in cash donations and pledges from individual members through a donation envelope initiative, just like the one included in this issue.

Currently, donors who make a donation of $50,000 or more, have the opportunity to sponsor something in the House of the Temple. These sponsorship opportunities include many important features of our beautiful building. Items still available for sponsorship include both of the sphinxes that adorn the entrance, the grand staircase leading to the Temple Room, and the Pillars of Charity Alcove. Many beautiful pieces are already reserved including the Egyptian Statues, the Hall of Honor Portrait Gallery, and the Atrium Marble “Salve Frater” Table. Visit for a complete list of sponsorship opportunities.

We are very grateful to everyone who has already given a gift to help preserve our House of the Temple. Over the next several years we will continue to work on the renovations, so cash gifts are greatly needed. We ask for your help in raising the funds necessary to accomplish this formidable task. Please use the envelope included in this issue of the Journal to make a cash donation or to send in a completed pledge form. You can use the pledge form that is located on the back inside cover if you prefer to pay over time or to make a planned gift.

If you have any questions on ways to make a gift, please contact the staff of the Development Office: Earl Ihle, 33°, Grand Cross, Director of Development, at 1-866-448-3773, [email protected]; Matt Szramoski, 33°, Associate Director of Development, at 1-866-748-3227, [email protected]; Barbara Golden, Capital Campaign Consultant, at 202-777-3163, [email protected]. You may also visit us online at