About Us

Who we areDispensation to open a Temple of the A.A.O.N.M.S. at Roanoke, Virginia, under the title of Kazim, was granted the 13th day of July 1916, by the Imperial Potentate Henry F. Niedringheas.

The following Nobles were granted authority to open Kazim Temple to confer the Order and transact the business of the Temple: Robert H. Angell, O.D. Oakey, John T. Cullen, R. Frank Taylor, Charles T. Jennings, C.S. McNulty, J.C. Bandy, Chris Markley, and 439 other Nobles.

The following Nobles were appointed as the Divan by Noble D.C. O'Flaherty, presiding as Special Deputy of the Imperial Potentate, at the Institutional meeting held in Lakeland Lodge on the 14th of October 1916: Robert H. Angeil, Potentate; O.D. Oakey, Chief Rabban; W.C. Stephenson, Assistant Rabban; H.P. Getys, Oriental Guide; H.A. Pratt, Treasurer; and John T. Cullen, Recorder.

Imperial Potentate Charles E. Ovenshire, appointed Past Imperial Potentate Harrison Dingman of Almas Temple, Washington, DC, to institute Kazim Temple and present the permanent charter, dated the 27th of July, 1917. One hundred and three Nobles were created and 12 affiliated by demit from other Temples on the 17th of September, 1917.

A special meeting was called on the 29th of August, 1924. The Building Committee moved that they be authorized to purchase a lot on Church Avenue. The motion was lost. Noble J.O.D. Copenhaver presented a map of a plot of 100 acres in Raleigh Court, at the intersection of Gradin Road and Brandon Avenue. The Building Committee was requested to give consideration to its purchase. There had been considerable interest and much promotion towards the building of a Shriners Crippled Children Hospital in the Roanoke Valley. One facet of the purchase of the 100-acre plot in Raleigh Court was the proposal that ten acres be set aside, for donations to the Crippled Children's Hospital, if built.

A special business meeting of the Kazim Temple Corporation was held on the 17th of May, 1947. The sale of the property owned by the Temple in Raleigh Court to the Roanoke School Board was approved. The Temple would receive $125,000 and a deed to the W. K. Andrews property on West Campbell Avenue.

The "Gambill House," located on the W. K. Andrews property on West Campbell Avenue, became the permanent home of Kazim Temple through its acquisition in 1947 by the Kazim Temple Corporation.

The Building Committee reported that the architects had secured a map of the Shrine property; progress was being made in the development of the construction plans. The report was made at a business meeting held on the 10th of April, 1956.

Cornerstone Laying Ceremonies

Cornerstone Laying Ceremonies Of Scottish Rite Bodies and Kazim Temple

Mt. Wor. Earl S. Wallace, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, laid the cornerstones on the Scottish Rite and Kazim Temple, Friday, the 23rd of May, 1958, at 11:00 a.m. in accordance with the "Ceremony for Laying Cornerstones" published by order of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Virginia 1953 Edition. The occasion was witnessed by T.J. Craig 32-degree Venerable Master and Commander, Frederick Grimm 32-degree Wise-Master, and C. B. Nerren 32-degree Master of Kadosh, representing the Scottish Rite Bodies. D. Marvin Penn, Potentate, represented Kazim Temple. Five hundred members and Nobles attended the Ceremony. Brother Earl S. Wallace believed that the laying of Corner-Stones on two buildings side by side was the first event of record in the 180-year history of Masonry in Virginia.

Organizational Overview

Shriners, LogoThe Imperial Divan is the international governing body of Shriners International. The governing body works as a corporate Board of Directors and consists of 12 officers. Each of them is elected to the lowest position on the Divan and moves up one position each year, with the exception of the Imperial Treasurer and Imperial Recorder.

The highest leadership position within Shriners International is Imperial Potentate. The Imperial Potentate is both president and chief executive officer of Shriners International, and is elected for a one-year term. He spends his year in office visiting many of the Shriner temples (chapters), attending regional meetings, and visiting Shriners Hospitals for Children® locations. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for both Shriners Hospitals for Children and Shriners International.

A similar organizational structure is followed at the local level within each Temple around the world.

Organizational History

Organizational History

Walter Fleming and William Florence in 1872

In 1870 a group of Masons frequently gathered for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue in New York City. At an exclusive table on the second floor, a particularly fun-loving group of men met regularly. Among the regulars were Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. "Billy" Florence, an actor. The group frequently talked about starting a new fraternity for Masons, one centered on fun and fellowship, more than ritual. Fleming and Florence took this idea seriously enough to do something about it.

Billy Florence had been on tour in France and had been invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The exotic style, flavors, and music of the Arabian-themed party inspired him to suggest this as a theme for the new fraternity. Walter Fleming, a devoted fraternity brother, built on Florence's ideas and used his knowledge of fraternal ritual to transform the Arabian theme into the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.).

With the help of the Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming drafted the ritual, designed the emblem and costumes, formulated a salutation, and declared that members would wear the red fez.

The first meeting of Mecca Shriners, the first temple (chapter) established in the United States, was held on the 26th of September, 1872. As word got out about the fledgling organization, membership grew rapidly, spreading across the U.S. In the early 1900s, membership spread into Canada, Mexico and Panama. Today, Shriners International is a fraternity with almost 200 temples in several countries, thousands of clubs around the world and hundreds of thousands of members dedicated to the principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth.

The Emblem

The EmblemThe emblem on the front of the fez, the crescent, and scimitar, is an integral part of the fraternity's theme and is representative of the characteristics embodied by the Shriners.
The scimitar stands for the backbone of the fraternity, its members.
The two claws are for the Shriners fraternity and its philanthropy.
The sphinx stands for the governing body of the Shriners.
The five-pointed star represents the thousands of children helped by the philanthropy each year.
The emblem also bears the phrase "Robur et Furor," which means "Strength and Fury."

The Fez

The FezThe fez is one of the most recognizable symbols of Shriners International and was adopted as the Shriners' official headgear in 1872. Named after the city of Fez, Morocco, the hat represented the Arabian theme the fraternity was founded on. It also serves as an outward symbol of one's membership in the fraternity. Much like the white apron worn by Masons as a symbol of their brotherhood, the fez is worn only by Shriners as a symbol of their membership in this unique fraternity.

Today the fez is worn at Shriners' functions, in parades and at outings as a way of gaining exposure for the fraternity. Members customize their fez to show their allegiance to their Temple. Look closely at a fez, and you will also learn other important information about its wearers, such as membership in Shrine clubs, specialized roles within the organization, and much more. Each fez is custom made, and a Shriner may own more than one fez depending on his activities and memberships.

My Old Red Fez

My old red fez has faded a bit;
But that hasn't dimmed my love for it.
For into that bit of old headgear
Are woven the friendships of many a year.
It knows the touch of a friendly hand,
And symbolizes – you'll understand -
All things I found both good and fine
In my happy days with the Mystic Shrine.
My old red fez has faded a bit;
But I'm still mighty proud of it,
Proud of all for which it stands
The loyal hearts and willing hands,
Ready always to do their best
And meet with courage every test;
Proud of the memories that are mine
Of Noble friends of the Mystic Shrine.
My old red fez has faded a bit;
And some day I'll take leave of it,
But not without a friendly smile,
For it has been mine a long, long while.
So here's to the fez and those who have worn it;
May love and loyalty ever adorn it;
May the sun of good fellowship eternally shine
In the hearts of the men of the Mystic Shrine.


SHC, logoFrom its earliest days, the Shriners were known for their philanthropic efforts across the country.

During a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, FL, members of the new Morocco Shrine and Masonic Knights Templar worked long hours to help the sick. In 1889 Shriners came to the aid of the Johnstown, PA, flood victims. In fact, by 1898, there were 50,000 Shriners, and 71 of the 79 temples were engaged in some sort of philanthropic work.

By the early 1900s, the fraternity was growing quickly. And as the fraternity was growing, so was the support for establishing an official charity. Most temples had local philanthropies and sometimes the Shriners' organization offered aid. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake Shriners sent $25,000 to help the fallen city. Shriners contributed $10,000 for the relief of European war victims. But neither of these efforts, nor the projects of individual temples, satisfied the membership.

The idea to establish hospitals for children was brought to the membership in 1919 by Freeland Kendrick (P.I.P., Lu Lu Shriners, Philadelphia) after he visited a Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta. This visit made Kendrick aware of the overwhelming need to care for children with orthopedic disorders.

During his tenure as Imperial Potentate in 1919 and 1920, Kendrick traveled more than 150,000 miles, visiting a majority of the 146 Shrine temples and campaigning for the establishment of an official philanthropy.

The First Hospital

By June 1922, the cornerstone had been laid for the first Shriners Hospitals for Children® in Shreveport, LA. The first patient admitted in 1922 was a little girl with a clubfoot, who had learned to walk on the top of her foot rather than the sole.

Through the remarkable foresight, commitment and fundraising skills of the Shriners, nearly one million children have been treated at one of the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children across the United States and in Canada and Mexico.

As a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, Shriners Hospitals for Children relies on the generous donations of Shriners, corporations and the general public to carry out our mission and improve the lives of children every day.