The Indianapolis Scottish Rite Cathedral is the largest Scottish Rite Cathedral in the world. Built from 1927 to 1929, it is one of the city’s architectural masterpieces and boasts a 210 foot tower, marble structures, magnificent stained-glass windows, and a large ballroom and theatre. It is designed around the Masonic number 33 and cost around $2.5 million to construct. Today, more than 100,000 people visit the Cathedral annually to experience its beauty.
In 1924, the Scottish Rite’s Building Committee chose
the design of architect George T. Schreiber (a member of the Scottish Rite
Masonry) for their new Cathedral. Schreiber spent years drawing and perfecting
the plans, but they were finally approved in January, 1927. The Cathedral was
constructed between 1927 and 1929 for around $2.5 million and occupied one-half
of a city block in Indianapolis. The building is laid out based on the number
33 – a significant number to Masons. Thirty-three represents Christ’s time on
earth and the thirty-three degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry. All of the
dimensions of the Cathedral involve 33 or multiples of 33: the pillars in the
ballroom are set 33 feet apart, the building itself is 330 feet wide.
The Cathedral is acknowledged as one of the finest
examples of Tudor Gothic architecture in the Midwest. At one time, the International
Association of Architects labelled the Cathedral “one of the seven most
beautiful buildings in the world. A 210 foot tower sits just behind the
entry pavilion of the building, with octagonal towers on either side of the
pavilion. The Cathedral boasts large stained-glass windows, external limestone,
marble structures, numerous wall buttresses, and white oak and walnut woodwork.
The interior of the Cathedral was decorated by Henry
L. Behrens, a local designer. Directly inside the main entrance is the Tiler’s
Room: its marble floor represents the inner sacred place of King Solomon’s
Temple. The Cathedral also holds a theatre, able to seat 1,200 people, and a
large dining room in the basement. There are also numerous lodge rooms,
libraries, and meeting rooms in the building. The main ballroom of the Cathedral
is cushioned by a system of springs beneath the dance floor. The stunning
ballroom is the backdrop to Taylor Swift’s music video, “Changes,” in which she
sings in the middle of the dance floor.
Today, the Cathedral remains one of the architectural
masterpieces of Indianapolis. More than 100,000 people visit every year and the
ballroom is still rented out for large events.