Rebuilding the Temple Today
Matthew T. Szramoski, 33°, Director of Development
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 Scottish Rite Journal.
Both the Scottish Rite and York Rites present prominently the narrative of the rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple. “[T]he building of the temple should be forwarded”—thus Rex R. Hutchens, 33°, GC, describes the zeal of Zerubbabel and his followers to rebuild the Temple as they return from Babylonian captivity (16°, “Prince of Jerusalem” chapter, A Bridge to Light, fourth edition, p. 121). We modern Masons, too, must rebuild and maintain our temples!
More than a decade ago, the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign was started to repair, modernize, and update the House of the Temple. While constructed on a solid foundation, since its opening in 1915, very little had been done to update and maintain the building through the decades since then. Water penetration, electrical and mechanical issues, elevator systems, and many more facilities were badly in need of repair or replacement.
A goal was set to raise the tens of millions that would be needed for these updates. Funds donated to the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, Inc. (HTF), will enable us to continue renovations and maintenance in the future on a regular basis as systems reach their life-cycle end or as needs arise. We are utilizing planned gifts for this endowment, with more than $38 million earmarked to go to our foundation at some point in the future.
During the campaign, we have completed numerous improvements, including electrical upgrades, a new boiler, replacement of all three flat roofs (the third is under construction now), fire doors, security system installation, and more. By the 2023 Biennial Session, we will have air conditioning installed for the first time in the history of the House of the Temple on the banquet room level! Later in the fall, air conditioning will also be installed for the first time on the atrium level. We all should be very proud of the work that has been completed to ensure the stability of and resources at the House of the Temple for the next generation. Many of these improvements also will facilitate the ability of the building to be utilized for rentals year-round, providing a new stream of income to provide additional funding.
We truly have been “Building the Temple!” The support of Scottish Rite Masons, their families, and others throughout the Southern Jurisdiction has enabled us to accomplish so much toward meeting our goals of completing these needed projects. The House of the Temple is a Masonic landmark in which we all take pride. Located a short distance from the White House on Sixteenth Street, it serves as the face not just of the Scottish Rite but also Freemasonry as a whole in our Nation’s Capital. Our museum educates the public about our fraternity, and the library is used by researchers from around the world.
We still have a few projects that remain to complete the campaign. The HTF needs $7–10 million to complete all of the remaining projects and bring a conclusion to the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign.
While we will need several significant gifts to complete all of these projects, no gift is too small to help bring them to fruition. Every Scottish Rite Mason should consider making a contribution to help us finish the Rebuilding the Temple Campaign and help ensure we have set the course for it to serve the next generation of members and remain a beacon for Freemasonry.
For more information on how you can assist with one of these projects listed below or information on naming opportunities, or other questions, please contact Matthew Szramoski, 33°, Director of Development at 202–777–3143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key Projects that Remain Include:
New Museum Banquet Level Entrance - $1.5 Million
This is critical both for life safety and providing access to this level. When the HOT was constructed, no entrance to this floor was included. By adding one, we will enable handicapped brethren to access the museum and banquet room, as well as better facilitate caterers and others bringing equipment and food to the various rooms located there. This is an expensive project, since the entrance would be cut through the side of the Temple, and this involves relocating an archive area to another portion of the building. Approximately $1.5 million is needed to complete this project.
Banquet Room Ladies Restroom - $560,000
Currently, there are no restroom facilities for ladies on this level. Critical not only to Scottish Rite activities but to potential rentals, we need to make this addition. This will involve adding all new plumbing and access to an area on this floor. It will be a major project that will provide much improved uses for this area.
Temple HVAC Project - $850,000
The Temple Room will be the only remaining area of the building that does not have HVAC. Installation will provide greater use of the facility during the Biennial Session and throughout the year for programs and activities.
Passenger Elevator Upgrade - $250,000
Our current elevator is quite aged and in need of significant upgrades. This gift will enable us to maintain it in a safe and good working manner rather than relying on continual maintenance.
Bird Netting Replacement - $90,000
This netting is placed around the building’s exterior where the thirty-three columns are located. It keeps birds from nesting or leaving waste on the Temple level of the building and ensures a positive appearance for visitors. Our current netting has several tears and requires frequent repairs.
South Lawn Permanent Parking - $250,000
This will enable us to establish permanent parking on the south side of the House of the Temple. We currently have a temporary lot, and this upgrade would allow much improved parking access for visitors and during the Biennial Session, special events, and other activities.
Restore All Windows / Grills and Clean / Re-point All Stones - $3.7 Million
This project will enable us to restore each window on the building and perform repairs that are needed in the mortar that binds the building’s stones together. We hope that Brethren, Valleys, Orients, and others can assist with this endeavor by donating $100,000 to have a window named in their honor or in honor or in memory of another. No gift is too small to assist with this project.
Illustration: Apron of the 16°, Prince of Jerusalem. The structure on the apron represents the Second Temple at Jerusalem.Source: Liturgy of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. Part III. XV. to XVIII. (Charleston. A.M. 5638; New York: Robert Macoy, 4 Barclay Street, 1877)