Scottish Rite Temple

Washington, DC

The regional headquarters of the Scottish Rite Freemasons, also known as the House of the Temple, is one of the most eye-catching buildings in the District. That’s because it looks like a magic temple lifted out of a comic book, all the more incredible for basically sitting amid a tangle of residential row houses. It’s as if someone plopped the Parthenon in the middle of Shady Acres suburbia.

There’s a lot of heavy Masonic symbolism and ritual associated with the temple. Thirty-three columns surround the building, representing the 33rd Degree, an honorary distinction conferred on outstanding Masons. Two sphinxes, Wisdom and Power, guard the entrance, and past the gates of bronze that front the building (really), the grand atrium looks like a collision zone between the Egyptian and Greek antiquities departments of a major museum. Note the Pharaonic statues and chairs modeled to resemble thrones from the Temple of Dionysus. Guides provide tours of all this fascinating minutiae.

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