With ornate rooms designed to meticulously replicate historic periods and decorations riddled with arcane symbols, the Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma, is one of the largest Masonic complexes in the world. Completed in 1923 for around $3 million, it is both a monument to the oil boom and the influence of the Masons in the state.
Its history goes back to 1889, when the cornerstone for the first Masonic structure in Guthrie was placed. After achieving statehood in 1907, Oklahoma first had its capital in Guthrie before it was relocated to Oklahoma City, and the original legislative hall was later acquired by the Masons for their new temple. Although the original Convention Hall is now connected to the 1923 complex, it is still preserved in much the same condition as when it was finished in 1908.
Marking the end of Oklahoma Avenue, which juts off from the elegant Victorian architecture of downtown Guthrie, the temple is an elaborate Neo-classical building made from Indiana limestone lined with Doric columns. 400 stained glass windows are incorporated into the building designed by the Oklahoma City architectural firm Hawk and Parr. The interior was overseen by Marion and Kathryn Davis, who also worked on the interior of Rockefeller Center in New York, and includes a 190 foot long, 52 foot wide marble two-story atrium as a tribute to the Roman Empire.
The theater, also in the Roman style, has a 3,500 seating capacity and a Kimball organ with 5,376 pipes concealed in an arch over the stage. A Pompeiian Room has replicas of furniture found in the city consumed by ash, and the Assyrian Room has chandeliers designed to replicate the fire pots used by the Assyrians around 700 BC. 18th century English design is duplicated in the Crystal Room, named for its Czech crystal chandeliers, containing a rug weighing 1,000 pounds, which arrived by train, like most of ornamentations, from the East Coast. The Writing Room was done in the 17th century English style, with extra long chairs for the tall frontiersmen, and the library holding Masonic texts is in a Gothic style, although with an Oklahoman touch in the carved cowboys and Indians stalking each other along the tops of the walls. The Egyptian Room, a 300-seat theater, was painted in pigments mixed with egg whites, just as ancient Egyptians did with their temples.
The Scottish Rite Temple is preserved in almost its original condition from when it was completed in the 1920s, and tours are offered of its detailed interior by Masons, who continue to use the temple as a center for Masonic activity in Oklahoma.
Know Before You Go
Tours are $5 a person and are held weekdays at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted on their website. Calling ahead is recommended.