Scottish Rite Cathedral: Gothic home to the world’s oldest fraternity
Often called the most popular historic building in Indianapolis, the Scottish Rite Cathedral stands as a stunningly beautiful and ornate monument to the Freemasonry movement in the early part of the 20th century.
Renowned master architect George Frederick Henry Schreiber was called upon by members of the Indianapolis Valley of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite to design and build, in less than two years (November 1927-September 1929), one of the best examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. Indeed, at the time of its completion, the International Association of Architects called it one of the seven most beautiful buildings in the world.
The four-story structure is replete with exterior and interior measurements based on the number 33 – the number of years that Christ was said to have lived on Earth. It’s 330 feet long, 120 feet wide, and interior rooms are either 33, 66 or 99 feet in length. While the exterior is made mostly of Indiana limestone, the interior walls are made of a dazzling finished white oak imported from Russia’s Carpathian Mountains.
Since Freemasonry is a culture that holds traditions of fraternal fellowship very dear, many of the functional rooms in the cathedral were built to foster events and “degrees” – courses of study and experiences – designed to build individual character and citizenship. But when not in official use, they’re available for rentals to the public.
Primary among them are the 410-seat ballroom, which features a parquet “floating” flooring composed of thousands of three-inch black walnut strips supported by a system of springs and thick deadening felt paper; a stunning cathedral gothic-style auditorium that seats 1,100 and features an 80-rank, five-manual Skinner pipe organ; and a banquet hall that seats 2,500. Check the cathedral web site for additional details.
But the most prominent part of the building is the tower, which rises 212 feet above the sidewalk and houses the 54-bell Baxter Carillon, which peals every quarter hour 24/7.
HelloIndianapolis Tip: Free guided 45-minute tours for groups of less than 10 are available on weekdays until 2 p.m. and the third Saturday of each month.
Posted on August 30, 2010 by Jim Brown