- Social Web
This Masonic temple is the headquarters of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, also called the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction.
The temple was designed by non-Mason John Russell Pope, the architect who designed the Jefferson Memorial and the main building of the National Gallery of Art. It was inspired by the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Architect and Freemason Elliott Woods, who designed the Capitol, added Masonic touches to the temple's design.
The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 18, 1911, in a ceremony attended by hundreds of Masons. The temple was completed in 1915.
The building prominently features a 13-stepped truncated pyramid, similar to that depicted on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States and the $1 bill. Lining the stairs leading up to the shrine are two large marble sphinxes sculpted by Alexander Weinman. One has its eyes half closed and is a symbol of wisdom. The other, with its eyes open, is a symbol of power.
The number 33 is very important to the Masons. There are various degrees that one can earn as a Freemason, and the highest is the 33rd. Thus there are 33 columns surrounding the building, and each is 33 feet high. The building's address also contains the number 33.
Inside the three-story building is a library that contains thousands of books and Masonic artifacts. There is also a banquet room, the offices of several Masonic officials, a temple, many exhibits, and the remains of prominent Mason Albert Pike.
— Debra Bell
Photo Gallery: Inside the House of the Temple