Skip to content

Our History


In 1870, five (5) Freemasons working and living in New York City, fostered the idea for an affiliate organization that would provide fun and fellowship not only for the members, but also for their wives and families.

These five men were:

William Millard Fleming, M.D.
William J. Florence, Actor
Charles T. McClenachan, Lawyer
William S. Paterson, Paper Merchant
William Fowler, Restaurateur

These five Masons met for lunch regularly at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue. They established prerequisites for membership, adopted a Ritual, approved Costumes, and adopted Rules for the operation of the first Shrine Temple. The prerequisite for membership was first to be a Freemason, and also had obtained “either York Rite or Scottish Rite Advanced Degrees.” The recommendations were approved at the first formal meeting of “13” Freemasons, held on June 16, 1871. The “13” received the “Order of the Shrine” and MECCA (#1), New York City, was organized. The organization was titled “The Shrine of the United States.”

On June 6, 1876, Dr. Fleming, the Grand Potentate (later changed to Illustrious Potentate), called to order the Fourth meeting of MECCA. At this Session, the Imperial Council was organized. Twenty four (24) Nobles attended, representing two Temples, MECCA #1 and DEMASCUS #2. Imperial Potentates were elected to foster new Temples in New York, Cincinnati Ohio, Pittsburgh PA, Montpelier VT and Patterson N.J. Also at this meeting of the Imperial Council, a Committee was appointed to write Statutes and Regulations (the Imperial Code).


The organization is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children it administers and the red fezzes that members wear. The organization is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.[2] Shriners International describes itself as a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are approximately 340,000 members from 195 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe and Australia. On July 6, 2011, Shriners International commissioned Emirat Shriners of Heidelberg, Germany, as its 194th temple, and formed a new temple in Mindanao, Philippines (#195) in 2012.


Between June 1876 and June 1887 (11 years), thirty seven Temples were Chartered, and national membership reached 4,398.

On December 31, 1883, twenty eight Knights Templar assembled in Industrial Hall, Broad Street, Philadelphia, and agreed to request a Dispensation to form a Temple, to be known as LULU (meaning in Arabic “PEARL”). Per the Dispensation, the first eleven members were inducted into LULU on January 19, 1884. The Ceremonial was conducted by the officers of MECCA Temple. The first election of LULU officers followed the Ceremonial. On January 23, 1884, the 2ndCeremonial was held when 32 novices were inducted, and Appointed Officers were named. At the Special Ceremonial of March 22, 1884, when 29 men were initiated, seven of them from the Baltimore area, immediately demitted to organize BOUMI temple. At the Imperial Council Session in New York City on June 4, 1884, three new Temples received their Charters:

LULU, Philadelphia (#16) “Pearl”
MURAT, Indianapolis (#17) “Name of an Arab Tribe”
BOUMI, Baltimore (#18) “Owl”

We broke ground on our building in Plymouth Meeting on November 2, 1970. The cornerstone laying was held on November 11, 1972 followed by the first Ceremonial in the new building on November 29, 1972.