Albert Pike Comes to Oakland

Drew Betnon’s great grandfather saved Albert Pike’s Masonic library, thus, Scottish Rite Freemasony. Above is the Sottish Rite Temple in Oakland where was located a Chapter of the Rose Croix. Jon Presco Oakland, in 1880, had become the city second in importance to California after San Francisco. A number of Masonic Lodges were occupying the new Masonic Temple at Twelfth and Washington Streets. In the summer of 1883 Supreme Grand Commander Albert Pike 33o visited Oakland and he selected twelve men to receive the 4th through 32nd Degrees. Within days after their initiation 19 other Scottish Rite members joined with them and soon petitioned the Grand Consistory in San Francisco. After much discussion and some dissent, agreement was reached and charters were granted for a Lodge of Perfection, Chapter of Rose Croix and Council of Kadosh. By 1896 membership had grown to about 170 and the Bodies were outgrowing the Masonic Temple. They purchased, renovated and furnished an old synagogue at 350 Fourteenth Street and built the first Scottish Rite Temple west of the Rocky Mountains. Just 12 years later a second Cathedral at 1443 Madison Street was dedicated. By 1925 the membership had grown to 4,313, an increase of more than 100% in five years. Like all the Valleys, Oakland membership peaked at 8,867 in the late 1950s and held steady for almost a decade when it began a slow decline. (1) Still another, this time new, Cathedral was dedicated on December 12, 1927. The ceremony was held at 1547 Lakeside Drive where the Rite still resides. This Impressive Temple boasts hand carved ceilings, grand staircases and opulent furnishings. Its dining room comfortably seats 1,000 and the main auditorium, circular in shape, seats 1,500. The stage was considered to have only one rival: the Metropolitan Operas House in New York. The Valley of Oakland celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1980, the year that the Childhood Language Disorders Clinic commenced operation. On June 6, 1998 the Scottish Rite Ladies Club celebrated its 100th birthday. It had begun as a very successful fund raising project for the Masonic Home at Decoto. The ladies petitioned to form a Club and they met at the former synagogue on 14th Street. Its charter purpose was, in part, to “…assist the Scottish Rite Bodies with their goals.” The Club contributes to the Almoner’s fund and to various community charity projects. Presently its major charity is The Childhood Language Disorders Clinic. “I had the facts, first by letter, and then, upon his ‘return from the war,’ from the lips of Colonel Thomas Hart Benton, Jr., at the time Grand Master of Masons in Iowa (my superior officer). Thomas H. Benton, Jr. (“nephew of his uncle” of that name), ex-State Senator, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Grand Master 1860-’63, entered the Union Army as Colonel of the 29th Iowa Infantry and was later promoted to the rank of brevet brigadier-general, and in command of a division encamped for a time at Little Rock, Arkansas. “It was at this period, when the passions of the Union soldiers werearoused against General Pike, who was at the head of the Indians in the Confederate (Rebel, as they said) Army, that the soldiers of his division determined to burn the house and everything, including the valuable library of General Pike, wherever found. The Grand Master, Colonel Benton, hearing of this, rushed to its rescue, and to guard against, any further attempt at its destruction, made the General’s house his headquarters and placed a guard over his library. “But for this noble deed of Iowa’s Grand Master, my bosom friend for half a century, this Supreme Council would today be without, instead of possessing, one of the most rare and valuable libraries in the land. “General Benton was too modest to publish this, save to his intimate friends. Of him we may say, in General Pike’s own words, “He has lived – the fruits of his labors live after him;” and you, my Brothers, are enjoying them, as it was this service that made it possible for General Pike in later years to place his library in our House of the Temple and dispose of it, as he did, for his honor and our good.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Albert Pike Comes to Oakland

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    Two days after Christine was allegedly “killed” by a rogue wave, I had my own psychic visions. I was being blocked by very powerful men who were guarding the truth. We’re talking about the Freemasons.

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