The Pillars of Charity is the only section of the building that has been significantly redesigned since the opening of the building in 1915. Pope’s vision for this area was a “light well” meaning light would come in through the Library windows and channel through a window illuminating the area. When they decided to build the pillars the design was respectful of Pope’s original idea. The area was created by one of the master carvers from the National Cathedral, Harold Vogel. The beautiful stained glass has 33 rays of light, the Scottish Rite’s double headed eagle, and a depiction of the House of the Temple.
This is where we honor donors who have been especially generous with their donations to the fraternity and its charities. The individuals honored here also have their portraits hanging downstairs in the Hall of Honor.
On either side of this area we have two busts; one of Albert Pike and one of John Henry Cowles.
Mr. Cowles was the last Grand Commander to live in the building. The current finance office was his personal residence. In 1944 and 1953 special Acts of Congress allowed Albert Pike and then John Henry Cowles to be entombed within the building, behind their respective busts. Albert Pike had been previously laid to rest in Oak Hill cemetery in Georgetown.