Newly-renovated Scottish Rite Temple Anchors Historic Linwood and Paseo Block

The Scottish Rite Temple at the northwest corner of Linwood and the Paseo, opened in 1930, has recently been renovated and is available as rental space for parties, weddings and conventions – an effort meant to allow the organization to keep the building open and in good repair.

A recent Google photo of the blocks shows the Temple at the northwest corner of Linwood and the Paseo.)

The Kansas City Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Temple is a massive structure that has fascinated those driving along Linwood and the Paseo for years. Last week, the Temple was opened for a public tour to show off renovations. The Scottish Rite, the largest branch of Freemasonry, still uses the building for meetings and administration. Faced with the ever-soaring cost of maintenance, however, the group hopes its new renovation will encourage those looking for event space for weddings, concerts, graduations and conventions to book the Temple.

Wes Wingfield, secretary of the Temple and a South Hyde Park resident, says the group is hoping the rebirth of the area around the Temple will bring in new business and help pay the bills so that the Temple can remain open for many years to come. He offered the MidtownKC Post a tour of the renewed facilities. (See more and learn about renting the Temple)

As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at each block in Midtown, including a set of 1940 tax assessment photos which is available for many blocks. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).  This post focuses on the Scottish Rite Temple. Our next post, on June 4, learn about the history of the block before the Temple was built. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Public Library does not have the 1940s photos from the block from the Paseo to Tracy between East 31stStreet and Linwood.

The classical Greek building is inspired by an ancient structure at Halicarnassus in Caria (now part of the Republic of Turkey). It boasts 32 columns, ten on each side and twelve across the front. Two massive sphinxes look out from the front of the building, the work of Kansas City sculptor Jorgen C. Dreyer, who also created the lions at the Kansas City Life building on Broadway.

 

Inside, an auditorium seats 400 and has a new state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. The main foyer floor is made from three types of marble, its walls of Silverdale stone, and its beamed ceiling of oak with antique designs in blue, black and gold. (Photo courtesy Rentthetemple.com).

 

Stained-glass windows in the dining room date back to an earlier Scottish Rite Building downtown at 1024 E. 15th.

 

Some rooms continue to be used for Scottish Rite ceremonies.

 

About 3500 people attended the cornerstone laying ceremony the of the new Temple in 1929. “The famous Washington trowel, property of the Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, which was used by George Washington in the laying of the corner stone for the national capital in Washington, was a special feature of the program,” according to a May 10, 1929 Kansas City Star article, which noted that a special committee of Virginians transported the trowel. It was used to seal a small copper box inside the cornerstone.

When the new Temple was dedicated in 1930 after two years of construction, prominent Masons and Scottish Rite officials from across the country came to Kansas City for the ceremonies. At that time, the Kansas City Scottish Rite had 700 members, one of the largest memberships in the country.

The Scottish Rite lost the building briefly in the 1950s, but got it back in 1969. It was used by the Kansas City Philharmonic in the 1950s to record albums, and was praised for its fine acoustics. The Kansas City Symphony used the building as a temporary home in the 1990s.

Historic photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library/Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Do you have memories or more details about this area of Midtown? Please share them with our readers. Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.

Our book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now at local bookstores and on Amazon.com. Let us know if you want us to come to your neighborhood association or organization’s meeting to share what we’ve learned about Midtown neighborhood history and tell your members how they can help preserve Midtown history. 

5 Comments

  1. david church says:

    what about the stonemason temple at Mt Moriah cemetery? i worked there 5 years, never once used for anything.

  2. mark says:

    Thanks – I’ve often wondered about that building!

  3. Lynn douthat says:

    What a magnificent building! I hope it is well-used and appreciated for many more years to come.
    I recall how much I enjoyed attending the philharmonic concerts there when the Lyric was unusable.

  4. My dad was a carpenter foreman on this renovation. The W. W. Bennett Construction Company. That would have been sometime in the mid 50’s. One room was filled with Singer treadle sewing machines. The workers were given the opportunity to purchase them, so dad bought one for my mom. It cost $2.00. Mom made many dresses for me on that machine, and I now own it.

  5. Wesley Wingfield says:

    The Masonic Mausoleum at Mount Moriah is the final resting place of many members of the fraternity and still used for Masonic ritual and ceremonies no open to the public.

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