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If you make your way along the Miami River, chances are you’ve noticed a big building with double-headed eagles and giant pillars that seems dropped out of nowhere.
That structure is the Scottish Rite Temple and it’s been around for nearly a century.
The organization is a branch of freemasonry and the temple has hosted meetings for decades, but now the building is used for everything from weddings and school plays to mixed martial arts events.
We got the backstory from Herman Gonzalez, the Rite’s general secretary.
THE SCOTTISH RITE’S HISTORY The Scottish Rite has been around for centuries, but in the U.S. its history goes back to 1801, when the Scottish Rite held its first meetings in the Shepheard’s Tavern in South Carolina. In Miami, the founders began organizing in 1916, and the chapter became official in 1919.
THE NAME Yeah, so, despite the name, the organization is not directly tied to anything happening in Scotland. The organization’s founding can actually be traced back to France, but the folklore around it and its role in masonry goes back to Scotland.
WHAT IS SCOTTISH RITE? It’s a fraternity. And a mason can join the Rite when they reach “master” level and have learned the first three degrees of masonic education. Some members say reaching that level is like graduating high school and joining the Rite is like going to college.
THE BUILDING’S HISTORY Construction on the building finished in 1924, just before the devastating Great Hurricane of 1926. The building held up after the storm and was used used as a meeting place for elected officials and for the community because of its size and its proximity to the river and the developing Downtown area.
THE BUILDING Some members call it the “white elephant” because of its color and its size. The three-story building’s got dozens of meeting rooms, a theater with balcony seating, and a ballroom in the basement.
THE PRESENT The temple is still primarily used for Scottish Rite meetings (Yes, they’re still around) and by other masonic lodges, but the organization has been renting the space for various uses in recent years. They host performances by Orchestra Miami, dance events like One World Soul of Dance and Tribal Mania, and mixed martial arts events. Schools have used the theater for plays, and the ballroom has been used for corporate events and weddings.
SOME FUN FACTS The building has 37 rooms and 13 bathrooms. And the theater still has many original light fixtures from the 1920s. It’s also equipped with a classic pipe organ.
Got questions about other landmarks in Miami? Is there anything else you’ve always wondered about? Nothing’s too random. Let us know in the comments or email us at [email protected]
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Don’t get caught slipping. A bunch of constitutional amendments are on the November ballot, and a lot of them are controversial. Some are pretty straight forward, but others have really confusing language. About half of them have been challenged in courts, often because advocacy groups think the language will mislead voters. A few of those amendments have been removed from the ballot, but make sure to read carefully before early voting starts next month. (WLRN)
A little relief. Driving from South Beach to Miami is about to get cheaper as drivers heading west on the Venetian won’t have to pay tolls during morning and evening rush hours. The move is a reaction to the ongoing construction and repair work on the MacArthur Causeway, which has caused traffic nightmares for folks leaving the beach. The toll relief will be in place for the next month, and may be extended if work on the MacArthur takes longer. (Miami Herald)
Making it right. Nearly two years after passing legislation to encourage officers to give citations to people for minor offenses, like carrying small amounts of marijuana, the Miami police department is actually planning to enforce the policy. A New Times investigation revealed that black offenders were being arrested far more often than their white offenders for carrying similar small amounts of weed. (Miami New Times)
A total mess. If the political situation in Opa-locka wasn’t enough of a mess, the city also allowed untreated sewage to sit on the streets for ten days as residents made their way through the dirty water. Sitting rain water and leaks from a sewage pump caused so much contamination that residents risked dysentery from contact with it. (Yes, that dysentery.) The water’s been disinfected, but the city still faces an aging sewage system without enough money to fix it. (Miami Herald)
DeSantis is all in. In what’s already become a tight race to November, Ron DeSantis resigned from his U.S. congressional seat to focus on his campaign for Florida governor against Andrew Gillum. DeSantis said he doesn’t want taxpayer money wasted on paying his salary as he campaigns full-time. (Tampa Bay Times)
The saga continues. While nothing’s official yet, Miami-Dade officials received word from the state that the county has violated the lease on the historic Coconut Grove Playhouse, and will have to take action soon. The theater’s preservation and renovation has been delayed for years and the latest county plan calls for a 300-seat theater that would be renovated and opened by 2022. There’s no timetable for when construction will start but the state says plans must be finalized by the end of next month. The county disagrees. The curtain’s not even up, but this drama’s far from over. (Miami Herald)
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We just wanted to take a moment to remember the thousands of lives lost 17 years ago in the Sept. 11 attacks. Spread a little extra love today, if you can. We’ll see you tomorrow. ❤️
– The New Tropic