Whither Are We Traveling? An Update on the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign

Matthew T. Szramoski, 33°
Director of Development

Exactly twelve months ago in the Scottish Rite Journal, Grand Commander Seal announced our efforts to restore the House of the Temple through the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign. He said that it was a time for action—for each of us as Scottish Rite Masons to step up and assist in this noble effort. The Development Department has been focused on leading a successful campaign, and it is appropriate to provide an update on what action has been taken. Our goal is to raise $97 million to restore, renovate, and improve the House of the Temple while also creating an endowment to maintain it for future generations.

Designed by famed American architect John Russell Pope, the House of the Temple is an architectural masterpiece. The Supreme Council is preparing to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the House of the Temple in 2015 while simultaneously ensuring the Temple’s preservation, access, and effectiveness as a venue for service and education for the next 100 years. Our development team is working hard to build a network of individuals, corporations, and foundations, that might support our campaign. From this list we are conducting outreach, setting meetings, and securing contributions.

It is our responsibility as a fraternity to preserve our headquarters, museum, library, and archives for future generations. Within the Temple are housed priceless relics, ancient books, and memorabilia from influential Americans such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many of the artifacts are not displayed in an appropriate setting or stored in the proper environmental conditions. The goal of our campaign is to raise funds to resolve these issues, while fully restoring the Temple.

This campaign will also create sustainable educational programs to ensure the continuation of our legacy. Upon the campaign’s completion, the House of the Temple will serve as a national center for education, historic preservation, events, and tourism for all people—Mason and non-Mason alike. Visitors from around the world will learn about Freemasonry and its influence in shaping American and international history. The House of the Temple will be a revered historical landmark and a premier venue for conferences and events for Masons, dignitaries, and scholars. The Rebuilding the Temple Campaign will preserve the legacy of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, enlighten others of our principles, and promote Freemasonry well into the future.

The Development Office, working with the campaign advisory panel, has set several goals for the campaign including:

  • Strengthen the connection between Scottish Rite brothers and the Temple
  • Restore the spirit and importance of the Temple
  • Build and strengthen relationships across the fraternity
  • Preserve and restore the House of the Temple as a venue for service, education, and events
  • Help improve the safety and security of the facility for all visitors
  • Empower new leadership for the future of the Scottish Rite.

The Supreme Council voted to approve the campaign with all work being completed as funds are raised. Traditionally, a large percentage of Masonic philanthropy has been made in the form of planned gifts such as wills, trusts, Charitable Gift Annuities, and life insurance. In the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign we will need to also raise a significant amount of cash on an annual basis to maintain the construction levels. This is a new focus and a dramatic change from the way we have conducted business in previous years. For us to be successful, we will need to work in creative ways to encourage all to support the campaign. In 2012, we will begin new programs such as a 24-hour “Temple Telethon” on May 18–19 to generate excitement, interest, and giving for the campaign.

Several important projects that are part of the restoration have been completed in the last six months:

  • The front deck has been repointed and sealed to mitigate water entry into the building;
  • We are completing the schematic design for the mechanical systems in the building;
  • The program of upgrades for life safety issues within the Temple has been completed 100%;
  • The control board for the main passenger elevator has been rebuilt to extend its life until it can be replaced;
  • A paint analysis has been performed in the Executive Chamber. The goal was to determine the different finishes the room has had over the past 100 years. We were able to identify four distinctive layers of finishes one of which included the bronze dusting of the entire room;
  • We have performed an intensive investigation of the plumbing system. This has included running a camera through portions of pipe and tracing the water and waste distribution throughout the building.

We hope that you will continue to feel excitement and pride as we restore the House of the Temple. We are laying the foundation for creating the nation’s premiere Masonic museum, library, archives and educational center. Each gift that is made, large or small, will be a call to action.

For more information on the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign or to make a gift please contact the Development Office at 1–866–448–3773. 

Photo: Richard Wolbers, Associate Professor, Coordinator of Science and Adjunct Paintings Conservator at the University of Delaware, takes samples of various painting treatments on the Executive Chamber ceiling beams. Over 30 samples 1.5 mm or 1/16 ” in diameter were collected to be analyzed. Layers of paint and other coatings in the Executive Chamber were removed to expose four different treatments. Rain leaders were reviewed and cameras used to observe the condition of pipe interiors. Some cracks in the cast iron pipes in the areaways were observed. Any galvanized pipe remaining in the building is deteriorated and will need to be replaced. (Photo courtesy Hartman-Cox Architects)