Aside from significantly embellishing the beauty of the House of the Temple, the Alcove is a place to recognize the generous contributions by outstanding
Brethren to their local Scottish Rite Foundations or the the Scottish Rite
Foundation, S.J., USA. In addition, gifts in this range to the House of the
Temple Historic Preservation Foundation, S.J., USA, are also recognized in the
Alcove, which is down the hall from the Executive Chamber, and the Pillars of Charity Portrait Gallery on the first floor of the House of the Temple, just off the Scottish Rite Hall of Honor.

The Alcove, after more than three years of planning and construction, was
completed in time to be dedicated during the 1993 Biennial Session. The
challenge was to create an area so harmonious with style, quality, and
significance to the House of the Temple that it would appear to have always
been there. This was accomplished by remaining faithful to the timeless and
masterful design of John Russell Pope, the original architect of the House of the
Temple. Pope also designed many other architectural masterpieces, including the Jefferson Memorial, National Archives, and National Gallery of Art in our
nation's capital.

In developing his original concept for the House of the Temple in 1911, Pope
created a "light well," located at the middle landing of the marble staircase leading from the Atrium to the Banquet Hall, in the heart of the building. A window covered by a bronze grid admitted partial light through this opening.

In 1944 and 1953, by special permission of the United States Congress, the
remains of Sovereign Grand Commanders Albert Pike and, later, John Henry
Cowles were placed in vaults to either side of the light well. Memorial busts of
Pike and Cowles, each on a marble pedestal, were added at that time.

In 1990, The Supreme Council, 33°, decided to enhance and utilize this area by
creating an exquisite memorial alcove as a place of special recognition for those
whose generous gifts have advanced the work of the Scottish Rite. At that time Brother John D. Melius, 33°, artist of the "George Washington Laying the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol," "George Washington's Inauguration as the 1st President of the United States," and "Victory-World War II" paintings, was selected to work closely with Brother Donald Hogan Misner, 32°, KCCH, coordinating architect for the proposed Museum-Library addition to the House of the Temple, to ensure the architectural harmony, structural integrity, and cost effectiveness of the Pillars of Charity Alcove. In order to utilize fully Pope's light well, Brother Melius suggested a stained-glass window as the centerpiece of the Alcove. The result of refining several proposed versions, the present window depicts the Scottish Rite Eagle with 33 beams of light radiating to an exterior view of the House of the Temple itself. The window was constructed by one of America's premier stained-glass companies, the Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia.

Also, the magnificently detailed stone and woodwork of the entrance to the
Pillars of Charity Alcove, as well as the Alcove's highly decorated walls and
ceiling, are the meticulous work of Harold C. Vogel, one of the master carvers
of the Washington National Cathedral. The left and right walls of the Alcove, for instance, are inset with exquisite scale reproductions of the Alcove's signature Ionic column motif. Under each of these columns is a dedicatory plaque honoring a significant contributor to the Scottish Rite.


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Photo ©Maxwell MacKenzie, Washington, D.C.