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Guthrie Scottish Rite Temple
Robert Awenius, 32

In 1918, the citizens of the city of Guthrie in central Oklahoma sold a ten-acre plot to the Scottish Rite Building Association, and between 1921 and 1929, a magnificent Temple, in classic Greek style, was erected. It has a width of 260 feet, a depth of 470 feet, with the front graced by 16 huge Indiana limestone columns sweeping 70 feet towards the sky. Here, in the hinterland of the nation, Masons have built what is now considered by many as the largest Masonic Temple in the world, originally erected at a cost of $2,000,000.

An architect designed the Temple's exterior, but in an unusual arrangement, the interior design work was done by a husband-wife team under a commission mandating that the rooms recognize ancient peoples and cultures. In this process, the building became a storybook of architectural history. Water-color sketches were made of each room of the Temple. Where rugs were to be placed, sketches were sent to County Donegal, Ireland. There wool for floor coverings was hand-dyed to match exactly the color tones in the sketches. The largest carpet, 30' x 45' in the Crystal Room, required the use of two railroad flatcars in delivery. During construction, the Temple's unique design required the skills of craftsmen brought from Italy and other countries; also, material and furnishings were imported from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Italy.

Just to name the rooms in the Temple is to underscore the breadth of civilization and culture embodied in the Temple: the classical Atrium, the Pompeiian Room, the Assyrian Room, the Italian Lounge, and the Egyptian Room. Also, there are color-themed areas such as the Rose and Blue Rooms. Much of the Temple's artwork could not be duplicated today; further, many of the skills used to decorate the building have disappeared. The Blue Room, for instance, has three stained-glass windows made by an Italian artist who perfected a secret process whereby flesh tones are perfectly rendered.

In the main auditorium, the balcony rests upon an arch which, at the time of construction and for many years thereafter, was the largest unsupported cement arch in the world. Appraisal of the Temple today is $65,000,000. Masons in Oklahoma are rightly proud of their Temple in Guthrie and call it one of the wonders of the modern world.