Investing in the Future: Rebuilding the Temple—One Gift at a Time


By Barbara G. Golden, Esq., OES, General Counsel and Capital Campaign Consultant

Photo: House of the Temple columns and roof (©Maxwell MacKenzie, Washington, D.C.)

The Rebuilding the Temple Campaign is off to a great start. When the Sovereign Grand Commander and the Supreme Council formally launched the Campaign for the House of the Temple in 2009, several individuals immediately stepped up to donate to Rebuilding the Temple to ensure that this Temple will be here for their children and grandchildren to enjoy; several other members made contributions before the Campaign was even announced.

The first gift to Rebuilding the Temple came from Ill. Hans Wilhelmsen, 33°, Emeritus Member of the Supreme Council in Maryland, who provided for a $500,000 gift to the Campaign in his living trust. Ill. Wilhelmsen was the chair of the Supreme Council’s building committee and was instrumental in helping to select the general contractor, architect, and structural and mechanical engineers who are handling the renovation work at the Temple. In making his gift, Ill. Wilhelmsen stated that he recognized, “the fraternity’s responsibility as guardian of this historic structure to preserve it for the future generations of Masons and for the public.”

Our first cash gift was from Ill. George Dewese, 33°, and his wife, Matsue, long-time supporters of the Scottish Rite. They donated $20,000 in cash to start an endowment fund for the House of the Temple. They also devoted one of their charitable remainder unitrusts to further fund this endowment. The Deweses chose to be recognized with the naming rights to the Hall of Honor Portrait Gallery.

The first in-kind gift came from Ill. Sean Graystone, 33°, Grand Cross, the former CEO of Toltec Builders, who donated $110,000 worth of services from his company to provide the Supreme Council with the formal building study that outlined for the Supreme Council the major improvements to be made to the House of the Temple to maintain it for the next 100 years and that provided an approximate cost for that renovation effort.

Following these initial gifts, MW Woody Bilyeu, 33°, Grand Master of Masons in Louisiana, gave the first $1,000,000 gift to Rebuilding the Temple: he pledged $100,000 per year for 10 years. We have already received $300,000 of Ill. Bilyeu’s gift since the Campaign started. Moreover, Ill. Bilyeu answered the Sovereign Grand Commander’s call for someone to chair the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign Advisory Panel, so he will be an integral part of the team whose charge is to help the Development Office meet the Campaign’s financial goals.

Another individual donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, named the House of the Temple as the beneficiary of his paid up $1,000,000 whole life insurance policy. Additionally, he agreed to help find other potential donors for the campaign.

We also received cash gifts ranging from $1,500 to $25,000 from the following:

  • Bro. Eric Miller, 32°, Valley of Washington, D.C., through his estate
  • Bro. Ben Browning, 32°, Valley of Alexandria, Virginia
  • Mt. Juneau-Gastineaux Lodge No. 21, Alaska
  • Barton Cotton, Inc.
  • Ill. Joe Dealey, 33°, Valley of Dallas, Texas

Each of these donors will be recognized in a meaningful way for their contributions to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign.

Ill. Bryce Hildreth, 33°, has pledged $100,000 to Rebuilding the Temple in installments, and we have received his first payment of $20,000. He will be recognized through the naming rights to the Hall of Regalia.

Another Supreme Council leader, Ill. Marlin Mills, 33°, Deputy in Maryland, and his wife, Brenda, announced their support for Rebuilding the Temple by donating cash and making a pledge to make additional cash gifts over several years. Deputy Mills and his wife, chose to be recognized with the naming rights to the Albert Pike Bust on the Grand Staircase.

Also, our Grand Executive Director and Custodian of the Building, Ill. William G. Sizemore, 33°, Grand Cross, and his wife, Hellen, contributed cash and stock in exchange for a charitable gift annuity for the benefit of Rebuilding the Temple. The Library’s Abraham Lincoln Collection will be named in the Sizemores’ honor.

When the Campaign launched its planning phase in 2009, two orients and a local valley declared their unconditional support with substantial gifts. The first gift was from the Orient of Kentucky, and its Valleys of Covington, Lexington, Louisville, and Madisonville. Through the efforts of Ill. Roger Barnett, 33°, Deputy in Kentucky, the members of the Orient of Kentucky donated over $1,000,000 in cash to Rebuilding the Temple in honor of Ill. John E. Moyers, Past Grand Secretary General and Emeritus Member of the Supreme Council, who represented Kentucky on the Supreme Council for more than 20 years. The Orient of Kentucky and Ill. John E. Moyers, 33°, will be recognized with the naming rights to the Grand Executive Director’s Office.

Subsequently, the Maryland Scottish Rite Foundation pledged to make a very significant gift to the Campaign to be paid in installments, the first of which has already been put to use in our renovations. They reserved the naming rights to the Egyptian statues that flank the Grand Staircase in the Atrium; one to be named for the Orient of Maryland; and the other, for the Valley of Baltimore.

These donors are excited about the future plans for the House of the Temple. In addition to making the Temple more accessible and safer for our members and visitors and updating its various electrical, mechanical and other infrastructure, the Museum will be modified so that it tells the public the story of Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite, the role of the fraternity in the founding of the country, the principles it upholds, and its important contributions to the community. In addition, we will have an education and media center which will help us to deliver Masonic education to the public, to our members, including those who can no longer go to lodge, and to our valleys, so that they have programs of interest for their members. Imagine watching lectures given here at the Temple by the best Masonic scholars from your home computer or at your valley. Or, imagine a traveling Temple exhibit that comes to your reunion or to your valley’s 100th anniversary. Our hope is that the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign results in the House of the Temple being used by the members as a resource for education, for special events and for promoting a positive image of the Scottish Rite to the public and to Masons everywhere.