Wednesday, August 24, 2011

John Russell Pope: Temple of the Scottish Rite

Yesterday I posted an image of a beautiful light fixture and it raised some interest in the building it came from: the Temple of the Scottish Rite.

I've been fascinated with this building since moving to DC, sitting so stately on 16th street. It is open for tours but I've never managed to make it on time during their limited hours.John Russell Pope, so often associated with the grandest monuments and houses in DC, actually got his start in the city on this Greek inspired building when he was selected in 1910 for its design. Five years later it was finished and became the headquarters for the Grand Council of the Masons.
Since opening, the building has always garnered attention; winning many architectural awards and being listed in 'top buildings' lists for close to a century now. This is not surprising given its' historic precedent, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the tomb of Mausolus at the Greek city of Halicarnassus. Yes you read that correctly, this tomb was so well respected that it soon became the word used for all great burial chambers: mausoleum.While choosing a tomb as the basis for the design of a great civic building may seem strange (the temple housed the first public library started in 1917 for the city, thus making it civic), one cannot deny the sheer elegance and respect that it commands on so important a street.



Many of the details of this grand building bring the awesome scale down to be appreciated at human scale, such as the light fixtures I showed yesterday and these amazing door knockers on the tall bronze entry doors. Hopefully I'll be able to tour the interiors shortly and try to share them with you all.

13 comments:

columnist said...

Why was it called Temple of the Scottish Rite, d'you know?

Bourbon&Pearls said...

How interesting, it does remind me of the work of Alexander Greek Thomson, who is very well known in Scotland.

David Toms said...

Brilliantly classical with fabulous architectural details! I am asking the same question as Columnist.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

The Scottish Rite is just a branch of the freemasons and as far as I can tell they call their meeting houses 'temple' -so it would appear there is really no more meaning to it than that.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I don't know which is more exciting — the sphinx or that door knocker. The lion's head seems older than even Ancient Greece, perhaps Crete or Macedonia.

David said...

Blogging to order, you're the best! It's beautiful. Actually its amazingly beautiful, thank you for posting.

I think the temple here has sphinxes (sphinxii?), I'll have to try to get by there soon and take some shots.

The Down East Dilettante said...

It's just one of those buildings that is so improbable that it leaves one rubbing one's eyes in amazement.

Somewhere, somewhere, I remember coming across an article about the design competition for the temple, with all sorts of beautiful, over the top, renderings. I'll send it on if I remember (aging brain cells are such a bore)

Blue said...

One more reason to visit DC. A very beautiful building and I would love to see the inside of it.

Have you ever seen the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia? Wikipedia describes its architectural style as "Other, Romanesque." it has the most marvelous series of rooms and halls - well worth a visit.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Dilettante - I think I've seen it too -in one of the boston architectural yearbooks? I have a few at home and will look through them.

Blue - I'm not surprised, Philly has some of the most amazing buildings! have you seen the trilogy of books on philedelphia architecture by Roger Moss? I just love them!

Lord Cowell said...

I never knew the etymology of Mausoleum before. Thank you. I look forward to a tour inside when you visit. BTW, What stone is it made out of?

Janet said...

Such a great building. Dying to see inside. . .

maison21 said...

such awesomeness!

James Bacon said...

I'm curous as to whether the assymetry of the lovely door knocker ring is deliberate or due to someone rotating it.

I mean did you TRY to straighten it?