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House of the Temple

The House of the Temple
House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.
House of the Temple is located in Washington, D.C.
Location within Washington, D.C.
General information
Architectural style American Neoclassicism
Address 1733 16th St NW
Town or city Washington, D.C.
Country United States
Construction started October 18, 1911
Completed October 18, 1915
Client Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
Design and construction
Architect John Russell Pope

The House of the Temple is a Masonic temple in Washington, D.C., United States that serves as the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. (officially, "Home of The Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Washington D.C., U.S.A.")

It is located at 1733 16th Street, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and stands approximately one mile directly north of the White House. The full name of the Supreme Council is "The Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America."


  • History 1
  • In popular culture 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


On May 31, 1911, 110 years after the founding of the Supreme Council, Grand Commander James D. Richardson broke ground on the spot where the House of the Temple now stands in Washington, D.C. Grand Master J. Claude Keiper, of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, laid the cornerstone in the northeast corner on October 18, 1911.[1]

House of the Temple rear view

The temple was designed by noted architect John Russell Pope, who modeled it after the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.[2] The building was dedicated four years later on October 18, 1915.

The building's design was widely praised by contemporary architects, and it won Pope the Gold Medal of the Architectural League of New York in 1917. In his 1920 book L'Architecture aux Etatis-Unis, French architect Jacques Gréber described it as "a monument of remarkable sumptuousness ... the ensemble is an admirable study of antique architecture stamped with a powerful dignity." Fiske Kimball's 1928 book American Architecture describes it as "an example of the triumph of classical form in America". In the 1920s, a panel of architects named it "one of the three best public buildings" in the United States, along with the Nebraska State Capitol and the Pan American Union Building in Washington, D.C. In 1932, it was ranked as one of the ten top buildings in the country in a poll of federal government architects.[3]

House of the Temple library

Scottish poet and Freemason Robert Burns in its library, the first public library in Washington, D.C.[2]

Temple at night

The House of the Temple is designated as a contributing property to the Sixteenth Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[4]

From 1990 to 2011, the temple hosted a community garden on its grounds. The Temple Garden occupied about 0.25-acre (1,000 m2), divided into about 70 small plots worked by nearby residents.[5] In fall 2011, the Temple closed the garden in order to use the space to stage construction equipment for a rehabilitation project.[6]

In popular culture

In the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, the House of the Temple is in the background as a Washington, D.C., motorcycle cop vainly tries to start his engine.

In the 2009 novel The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, the building is the setting for several key scenes.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Bell, Debra. "The Freemasons in Washington".  
  2. ^ a b Helwig, Anne H.; Ganschinietz, Suzanne (January 30, 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form" (PDF).  
  3. ^ House of the Temple, The Supreme Council, 33°, A.A. & S.R. of Freemasonry, S.J., USA website, accessed June 18, 2010
  4. ^ "16th Street Historic District".  
  5. ^ "Plot Map". The Temple Garden. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  6. ^ Roso, Larissa (April 19, 2011). "Garden to Close for Masonic Temple renovation". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  7. ^  

External links

  • Supreme Council, Scottish Rite official website
  • House of the Temple, virtual tour
  • "Inside the House of the Temple", photo gallery by U.S. News & World Report
  • 12 photos
  • Smithsonian Magazine
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