History of the Building
The Scottish Rite Building is a two-story, concrete terra cotta social hall built in the Beauz-Arts style in 1923. On the west, north, and south facades the exterior of the building is of glazed, cream colored terra cotta while the rear or east facade has a brick exterior. The building is two stories in height with the exception of a raised story at the rear which housed the stage and fly space of the auditorium. The major change to the building since construction has been the replacement of the original wood windows with glass blocks.
The Scottish Rite Building is located on the southeast corner of Byers and 5th Street in Joplin, Missouri. The area was originally a prominent residential section of the city but office and commercial developments took over on the adjacent four blocks between Main and Byers Street.
The exterior of the building is 150x125 and sits on a large rectangular urban lot with an asphalt parking area to the south facade. No other buildings or structures are located on the lot.
The main entrance, from the west, consists of original bronze double doors with recessed panels and single light windows with "Union Jack" lights. Above the entrance are stained glass arched windows with console keystone and spandrels with floral motif panels. This entrance has a flight of steps consisting or 3, 5 and 7 steps, which is significant to the Masonic order. Inside these bronze entrance doors are two huge pillars, which again pertain to the Masonic Ritual.
Protective glass and muntin bars have been added over the windows. In the fascia panel over the windows is the inscription "SCOTTISH RITE CATHEDRAL" and flanking panels with shields, garlands and acanthus leaf decorations.
The interior of the Cathedral has not been significantly altered and displays its original floor plan and arrangements. The floor and staircase are solid marble, mined and imported from Italy. The basement level contains a kitchen and large dining room. The first floor has a large lobby, meeting hall, and various rooms used as libraries, most beautiful and the largest room on the first floor. Carpet has been added and the walls are plaster with grained butterfly oak wainscoting from Italy. The second floor is composed of a small lobby and auditorium with a proscenium stage. Fellowship Lodge 345 AF&AM and Temple Chapter 95 OES hold their meetings on the second floor.
The Scottish Rite, Valley of Joplin, was instituted on June 18, 1901, with twenty-five members. They first met at 5th and Main. They later moved their meetings to the Old Stephens Hotel at 819 Main, where they remained for nineteen years. Membership in 1923 was 1256 members.
Due to the growth in membership Scottish Rite outgrew its quarters at 819 Main. Joplin's most prominent citizen, Charles Schifferdecker, purchased property at the southeast corner of 5th and Byers and then deeded it over to the Scottish Rite with a proviso that they use the property as the site for the temple. A building committee was formed and hired an architect and contractor, both being Masons, to construct the Temple. Ground was broken on June 14, 1915. Construction was postponed due to financial problems and the onset of World War I. Work was resumed in the Spring of 1919. The cornerstone was laid on March 22, 1920.
The building was completed and dedicated on February 12, 1923. In celebration of this event the first Scottish Rite Class was held on February 13, 1923. Two-hundred-fifty new members were initiated in that class.
The cost of the building and various items therein (circa 1923) were as follows:
Organ $ 25,000
Furnishings $ 30,000
Scenery $ 25,000
Electrical Equipment $ 10,000
The cost of building just the Cathedral would be approximately $7.5 million dollars in today's dollars.
The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation placed the Scottish Rite Building on the National Register of Historic places in 1990.