The Scottish Rite Temple is locally significant both for its architecture and its role in the social lives of the Kansas City, KS. One of the few public or semi-public buildings in the city to be designated in a non-classical style, it was a notable work by William W. Rose, an architect whose work dominated and shaped the development of Kansas City, KS from 1900 to 1930 it was the first element to be erected in the city’s civic center that has developed along either side of 7th Street from Ann Avenue to Tauromee. Although it is the fourth structure to be located on its site, on the southwest corner of Huron Place, (the original town square), this remains the only corner not converted to wholly private use contrary to the intent of the town’s founders. Through location and association it serves to link the present community to that earlier time.
The first organization of Scottish Rite Masons in Kansas City, KS, was the Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, which held its first meeting on October 31, 1898. Before the organization of the Lodge there were five Scottish Rite Masons in Kansas Cit, KS, and fourteen were made in the conferral of the degrees at the first meeting. The organization of the Lodge was soon followed by Victory Chapter Rose Croix on May 10, 1899, John H. Brown Council Knights of Kadosh on January 16, 1900, and Caswell Consistory on February 26, 1901. Mr. Wulf was apparently acting on behalf of these bodies when he purchased the church building, but he nevertheless retained title to the property.
On October 20, 1906, an exposition and street carnival was being held in Ann Avenue from Sixth to Seventh and Seventh Street from Ann to Minnesota. Somehow a fire broke out and soon swept along the lines of makeshift booths. Before it could be brought under control it spread to the former church building, which was soon reduced to a burnt-out shell. The building had been extensively remodeled and the loss was determined at $25,000.
Masonic leaders soon resolved to build a new and more substantial Temple on the corner site. A sizeable loan was necessary, which in turn meant that title to the property needed to be secured. Therefore, November 17, 1906, Henry F. and Willie Wulf sold the corner lot to the Scottish Rite Masonic Association of Kansas City, KS for $1.00. Nevertheless, it was over a year before a loan could be arranged.
On March 2, 1908, the Kansas Trust Company loaned the Association $75,000 for the construction of a new Scottish Rite Temple. Plans for the building were drawn up by W.W. Rose, a member of the Caswell Consistory. Rose, a former mayor, was the most prominent architect in the City at that time. One of his most noteworthy achievements was the Carnegie Library of 1904 (now demolished) in the center of Huron Place, a short distance from the Temple site.
Construction proceeded rapidly, with the basement soon completed. The cornerstone was laid atop the basement at the southwest corner of the new building in large civic ceremony on November 9, 1908. The building was completed and occupied in 1909.
In the years followed, the Temple was more than just a Masonic meeting place. Until the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building was erected in 1924, the Temple provided the largest meeting place in the city and was frequently used to statewide gatherings of professional; business people, as well as the state meetings of Masonic and other fraternal organizations. During World War I the Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns were housed there. At the close of the war the returning soldiers were welcomed home to their first meal in the old home town. During the disastrous 1951 flood, the Temple served as a center of relief activities. In all this it has remained a major element in the history, architecture, and civic character of Kansas City, KS.