Scottish Rite Temple: Los Angeles

A staff used in the Scottish Rite ritual.

200 shovels were used at the ground breaking for the Scottish Rite Temple located on Wilshire Boulevard between Plymouth and Lucerne Streets. The mass ground-breaking took place on January 16, 1960, and was overseen by Superior Court Judge Ellsworth Meyer who was also master of the Scottish Rite branch in Los Angeles. He was assisted by the California Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Henry Clausen, and the president of the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral Association Myron Smith.

The erection of half of the steel frame was completed by July 31, 1960, and the other half was finished by the end of August. 1200 tons of steel were used in the structure and that amount of steel was equivalent to a seven-story building. The building was planned to be 306 feet by 130 feet and was scheduled to contain a first-floor auditorium, which would have a balcony, and have seating for 2,100.

Millard Sheets is credited as the designer of the building, but I’ve found no indication that he was an architect. Sheets “personally selected” all exterior marble in Rome and he’s responsible for the murals and mosaics too. A. Rossi carved the eight, fourteen-foot statues that adorn the exterior of the building on both Wilshire and Plymouth.  Each weighs in at approximately 27 tons and were “molded by Albert Steward of Claremont.”

A newspaper article indicated the stage and proscenium were larger than a college basketball court and the stage could hold 100 masonic backdrops. On the third floor there were three masonic lodge rooms, a lounge, kitchen, and a dining room that could seat 800. Adjacent to the building a 250 car, two-story, parking garage would rise.

Final cost of the building was $4.5 million dollars and proclaimed to be the “second most beautiful temple in the world” by Sovereign Grand Commander Luther A. Smith. Only the national headquarters’ temple in Washington, D.C. was considered more beautiful. The dedication ceremony took place on November 11, 1961, followed by a service in the auditorium at 7:30 pm. In the announcement of the dedication it stated the theater could seat 1,800, the dining room had a capacity of 1,000 and the building was 445 feet by 120 feet.

The Scottish Rite building looking toward the west.

While the front entrance is no longer used this is the entrance Masons would have used if entering from Wilshire Boulevard.

Below are the Rossi/Stewart statues along Wilshire Blvd. Each sculpture depicts a specific stage in Masonic history.

On the Plymouth Street side are these two statues and a Millard Sheets’ mosaic.

You can see Sheets’ name down at the bottom.

One of the large urns along Wilshire Blvd.

This photo gives a good indication of the scale of the building.

Inside the building is a Masonic room with paraphernalia from Los Angeles lodges.

The first Masonic lodge in Los Angeles was the 814 founded in 1853.

Past officers.

One of their many publications.

In most ritual work the lodge members dress up and enact parables often in conjunction with degree work.

One of the few windows in the building.

My friend Mark reluctantly went with me to the museum. He liked this framed image.

This was in one of their showcases.

The Marciano Art Foundation now occupies the space. Here’s a link to their website.

https://marcianoartfoundation.org/

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200 help in Scottish Rite temple start. (1960, January 17). Los Angeles Times, p. 28

Scottish Rite temple dedication set tonight. (1961, November 11). Los Angeles Times, p. I5.

Steel work advanced on Masonic temple. (1960, July 31). Los Angeles Times, p. I6.

Tour slated at Scottish temple. (1960, October 14). Los Angeles Times, p. B12.

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Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am very interested in your upcoming book “The Architects Who Built Southern California.” I have done extensive research on Hudson and Munsell, own a Hudson and Munsell house that I listed in the National Register, have documented roughly 200 of their structures, and have solid contacts with living relatives of both architects. I am considering writing a book on their contributions to southern California architecture but need to find the time.

    • Thank you. I’m writing the book because I want to shine a light on these architects. I’m hoping if the book sells well publishers will be willing to green-light books on some of these architects. I strongly urge you to do a book on Hudson and Munsell. In my book there will only be one chapter devoted to them and there is so much more that needs to be written.


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