by Steven Tiner, Past Grand High Priest Grand Chapter of Arkansas
The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is located at 700 Scott Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). On November 13, 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historical significance. The temple is named for Albert Pike, a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas, who played a major role in the establishment of Freemasonry in the state.
The Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the headquarters of the local governing body of Freemasonry, the Arkansas Grand Lodge. It was built to replace the original Masonic Temple, located on 5thand Main streets, which was destroyed by fire in 1919. The building is owned by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and houses another local Masonic section, the York Rite Bodies.
Masons have been present in Arkansas since the early 1800s. The evolution of Masonry in the state is closely linked to its history. Several members of the fraternity have served as important figures in Arkansas, becoming governors and judges. The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry was introduced in Arkansas by Albert Pike, a native of Boston, Massachusetts. After settling in Arkansas in the 1830s, Pike pursued diverse professions including working as a teacher, writer, newspaper editor and publisher, and lawyer. He was also a military officer in the Confederate army. In 1850, Pike became a Mason. In 1858, he was elected as an active member of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction, one of the two administrative areas of the Scottish Rite in the United States. In 1859, Pike became the Grand Commander of the Supreme Council. His major contributions to Freemasonry include the revision of the rituals of the Scottish Rite and the publication of Morals and Dogmas of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry. The book is considered a reference for the fraternity.
In its current form, the Albert Pike Memorial Temple is the result of successive transformations to the original structure. In 1901, a first building, called the Albert Pike Consistory Building, was erected on the corner of 8th and Scott streets. In 1913, the building was enlarged to accommodate a growing membership. After the fire of 1919, the consistory was remodelled and enclosed in the new Albert Pike Memorial Temple, designed by architects George Mann and Eugene Stern. The building was dedicated on May 12, 1924. On May 7, 1952, a fire destroyed mainly the older part of the building, at the south end. The rebuilt temple was dedicated in September 1956.
The Albert Pike Memorial Temple covers an entire block from 7th to 8th streets and half of a block in the opposite direction. Two double-headed eagle sculptures—the emblem of the Scottish Rite—stand in front of the entrance on Scott Street. The building is a monumental three-story structure in the Neo-Classical Revival style, lined on its front facade with nineteen Greek Ionic columns.
Inside the building, on the first floor, are two dining rooms, kitchen facilities, and offices. On the second floor are an auditorium, a library, and several rooms. Unique features of the temple include a room—the Lodge of Perfection—with stained-glass windows, and a massive chandelier in the auditorium. On its exterior, the temple features Bedford limestone. In the northeastern corner, the cornerstone is a block of Batesville (Independence County) marble carved with the date of the laying of the cornerstone, the name of the building, and the names of the members of the 1924 board of trustees.
The temple is open to the public during the week. The building’s auditorium and other facilities are available to non-Masonic organizations for events.