Scottish Rite Temple

This monumental building has served as a key site in the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry since 1915.

Built in the 1910s, the Temple headquartered the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Thirty-Third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry in DC. One of the most unusual buildings in the eclectic Sixteenth Street Historic District, the Temple of the Scottish Rite was designed by John Russell Pope, who also designed the National Archives and the Jefferson Memorial. Pope used the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, as his inspiration for the Temple. Outside, guarding the temple doors, is a pair of monumental sphinxes, representing wisdom and power. The Temple is laced with symbolism in its design and decor, much of which requires close attention to detail and may not be obvious to non-Masons.

The Temple’s Library, also the first public library in DC, contains one of the world’s largest collections of materials on and by Scottish poet and Freemason, Robert Burns. The Library was opened to the public at the request of Albert Pike, who donated his personal collection of books with the stipulation that they be available for use, free of charge, by the general public. Today, visitors can tour the Temple and the library.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
Within Sixteenth Street Historic District



1733 16th Street NW