"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Covington, KY Scottish Rite Building On The Block

We are murderers of our own posterity.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Covington, Kentucky Scottish Rite Vallet, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Friend and Brother S. Brent Morris was in town speaking, and it gave me an excuse to see a terrific presentation, as well as a beautiful Masonic building.

Looks like I went just in time.

Originally built in 1956 at the height of Freemasonry's U.S. popularity, the building is now considered by its members to be too big, and too expensive. It has no parking of its own. And it's not in the best or most convenient part of town anymore. Haven't we all heard this before.

So, the members have put the building—once the Scottish Rite home of KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders—up for sale in the most challenging real estate market since WWII began. The reason cited is to construct a new building half its size, which will give them a Rite Care facility cheaper than modifying the existing center. Covington's secretary Fred Bryant says it's not because of membership losses, that they are staying steady at 2,500, with about 100 attending convocations twice a year.

The center has a beautiful 700-seat auditorium, two lodge rooms and a dining hall. Its magnificent entry is flanked by two stone sphinxes. Its welcoming foyer and other architectural details can never be equalled in a new, more "economical" building.

Already the price has been dropped.

I don't know their situation in Covington, so I'm speaking out of class here. But how I wish we would be more innovative and less inclined to pitch our heritage overboard when the roof starts leaking or the place needs re-plumbing. Our fathers and grandfathers sacrificed to build these temples. No, Freemasonry isn't its buildings—but these buildings are a part of us, of what we were and are, and should still be a source of pride and service to the members and the community.

They didn't ask us to build better than they did. They simply expected us to just maintain them and pass them on to the next generation. It's the least we can do.

See Covington landmark for sale by Jeff McKinney at Cincinnati.com


  1. I absolutely agree. As a young Mason (23 years old, MM for less than a year) it saddens me to see an older generation giving up on decades of work to build up the fraternity. Yes, times are hard, but shouldn't we all tighten our belts and sacrifice a little bit? It seems that we're giving away what little we have for reasons of convenience.

    Will there be any monumental Scottish Rite temples around when I petition years from now? Masonic buildings are some of the few examples of beautiful architecture left in the US. It's a shame we don't value them more.

  2. My Great Grandfather, Gordon Augustus Willis, was a 33rd Degree, Scottish Rite FreeMason, who attended this lodge. He was the head city engineer of Covington, KY and passed away in 1987. If you Google him, you can find pictures of him real easy. WHen I found some young pictures of him, I found out that I'm a spitting image.


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