The Shrine of North America has been a part of the Washington Downtown area since 1886. Almas Temple is located at 1315 “K” Street, NW between the White House and the new Washington Convention Center. The building was originally erected in 1929, further up the block closer to 13th Street.
The old location was sold and the new building was completed in its present location in 1990. The facade of the building was inspired by the famous Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Granada, Spain built between 1338-1390. Since the facade has been declared a historic landmark, it had to be taken down tile-by-tile, numbered, and reassembled in our present location. It is one of the last mosaic tile facades left in the city of Washington.
All though Almas Shriners is located in the Nation’s Capital our membership extends around the world. Due to the nature of our city, with people coming from all over the world to work here and natives of Washington, DC moving to other countries, we literally have members throughout the world. In 2006, Almas Shriners started a new Shrine Club in Uruguay. Since that time, the Club has grown and they have taken in new members from Brazil and Bolivia.
Shriners, or Shrine Masons, belong to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The Shrine is an international fraternity of nearly 360,000 members who belong to 193 Shrine Centers throughout the Unites States, Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Founded in New York City in 1872, the organization is composed solely of Master Masons.
The Shriners are best known for their colorful parades, their distinctive red fezzes, and their official philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children, which is often called, “The heart and soul of the Shrine”.
There is a network of 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children located in the Unites States, Canada, and Mexico. They treat children from birth to 18 years of age with orthopedic problems, spinal cord injuries, sever burns, brittle bone disease, plus cleft lip and palate problems. These children are transported from their local areas to the Shriner Hospitals. The children in the Washington, DC area are transported to the Philadelphia Hospital for orthopedic problems and spinal cord injuries and to our Boston or Cincinnati Hospitals for burns. Shriners Hospitals for Children provide all care without financial obligation to patients or their families.
Shriners come from all walks of life and include many famous names. Presidents Warren G. Harding, Harry S Truman, Gerald R. Ford, and Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as many members of the House and Senate, and many Governors have been members. Just a few of the members from the entertainment world include actors John Wayne, Clark Gable, Ernest Borgnine, and Richard Tyson (best remembered for playing in Kindergarten Cop and Black Hawk Down), comedians Michael Richards (who is best known for playing Kramer on Seinfeld) and Red Skelton, country signer Brad Paisley, golfer Arnold Palmer, and Indy racecar driver Sam Hornish, Jr. just to name a few. Almas Shriners has the honor to have included in it’s membership John Philip Sousa (the “March King”), Dr. Edward G. Latch (Chaplain Emeritus of the U.S. House of Representatives), Carter Barron (Carter Barron Amphitheater), J. Edgar Hoover (first Director of the FBI), Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and son of President Theodore Roosevelt), Gen. John A. Lejeune, Rear Admiral Robert Coontz, John Rusk (the Official “Uncle Sam” by act of the U.S. Congress), L.P. Steward (Washington businessman), and Noble Barnes and Elmer “Skinny” Morris (both forward leaders of the Washington Redskin’s Marching Band). In addition, President Harry S Truman attended so often that he was made an honorary member.