The building was designed by John Russell Pope and is patterned after the tomb of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus, Turkey. Pope is famous for creating the Jefferson Monument, the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art but this building was his first monumental Washington, D.C. commission. Pope was not a mason but his consulting architect Elliot Woods was. Through Wood’s influence and suggestion that we have Masonic symbolism appearing throughout the architecture itself.
As you approach the building from the sidewalk the steps that lead to the bronze door rise in groups of three, five, seven, and nine. This is a reference to Euclidian geometry. (Geometry is the science most associated with architecture and construction, where Freemasonry takes much of its symbolism from).
- The one on the right (eyes half closed) is a symbol of Wisdom.
- The one on the left (eyes open) is a symbol of Power.
- Each of the sphinxes weighs 17 tons.
- They were carved out of a solid piece of stone, quarried at Bedford, Indiana.
- There are 33 outer columns which are 33 feet high.
- In front of the entrance in bronze set into the slabs of the granite floor is an inscription:
- The cornerstone of the building was laid October 18, 1911 and the building was dedicated October 18, 1915.