About The Shriners & LuLu Shrine



In 1870, five (5) Freemasons working and living in New York City, fostered the idea for an affiliate organization that would provide fun and fellowship not only for the members, but also for their wives and families. These five men were:


  • William Millard Fleming, M.D.
  • William J. Florence, Actor
  • Charles T. McClenachan, Lawyer
  • William S. Paterson, Paper Merchant
  • William Fowler, Restaurateur

These five Masons met for lunch regularly at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue. They established prerequisites for membership, adopted a Ritual, approved Costumes, and adopted Rules for the operation of the first Shrine Temple. The prerequisite for membership was first to be a Freemason, and also had obtained "either York Rite or Scottish Rite Advanced Degrees." The recommendations were approved at the first formal meeting of “13” Freemasons, held on June 16, 1871. The "13" received the "Order of the Shrine” and MECCA (#1), New York City, was organized. The organization was titled “The Shrine of the United States."

On June 6, 1876, Dr. Fleming, the Grand Potentate (later changed to Illustrious Potentate), called to order the Fourth meeting of MECCA. At this Session, the Imperial Council was organized. Twenty four (24) Nobles attended, representing two Temples, MECCA #1 and DEMASCUS #2. Imperial Potentates were elected to foster new Temples in New York, Cincinnati Ohio, Pittsburgh PA, Montpelier VT and Patterson N.J. Also at this meeting of the Imperial Council, a Committee was appointed to write Statutes and Regulations (the Imperial Code).


Between June 1876 and June 1887 (11 years), thirty seven Temples were Chartered, and national membership reached 4,398.

On December 31, 1883, twenty eight Knights Templar assembled in Industrial Hall, Broad Street, Philadelphia, and agreed to request a Dispensation to form a Temple, to be known as LULU (meaning in Arabic “PEARL”). Per the Dispensation, the first eleven members were inducted into LuLu on January 19, 1884. The Ceremonial was conducted by the officers of MECCA Temple. The first election of LuLu officers followed the Ceremonial. On January 23, 1884, the 2ndCeremonial was held when 32 novices were inducted, and Appointed Officers were named. At the Special Ceremonial of March 22, 1884, when 29 men were initiated, seven of them from the Baltimore area, immediately demitted to organize BOUMI temple. At the Imperial Council Session in New York City on June 4, 1884, three new Temples received their Charters:

LULU, Philadelphia (#16) "Pearl"
MURAT, Indianapolis (#17) "Name of an Arab Tribe"
BOUMI, Baltimore (#18) "Owl"


From the beginnings, in 1871 (MECCA) through 1920 approximately, there was no single approved philanthropy. The Temples were generous, however, in supporting various local and national charities. In 1919, the Honorable W. Freeland Kendrick, Potentate of LuLu 1906-1918, and later Mayor of Philadelphia, 1924-1928, launched the idea that the Shrine should undertake something for "friendless, orphaned, and crippled children." The following year (1920) at the Imperial Council Session in Portland, OR, Imperial Sir Kendrick introduced (and it was adopted) a motion to "establish a Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children." An annual assessment of $2.00, from every Shriner to support the Hospital, was approved, and a Committee of Seven was appointed by Imperial Sir Kendrick to implement the program.

The Shrine Hospital System has grown to its current size of 19 Hospitals in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and three Burns Institutes. The name has changed to The Shrine Hospitals for Children. Every Shriner today contributes $5.00 of his annual membership dues to the Hospital System.

Freeland Kendrick (known as "Free" or "Freel") became known as the "Father" of the Hospital System. He served on the National Board (he chaired it for many years) and served on the Philadelphia Hospital Board until his death, March 20, 1953. After serving as Imperial Potentate 1919/1920, Freel returned to LuLu, where he again served as Potentate for three years (1921-23).


In 1888, with the chartering of RAMASES Temple (#33), Toronto, Canada, the Title changed to "The Shrine of North America". Temples were later organized in Mexico and Panama, In 2000, the prerequisite for membership was changed. A Freemason may now directly petition for Shrine membership.

The original idea of Fun and Fellowship has never changed. The Potentate of each Temple recognizes or charters Units and Clubs. Units are devoted to a stated purpose- i.e. Mounted Guard, Concert Band, Arab Patrol, Legion of Honor, etc. In addition to serving their Temple, these Nobles are often joined by their Ladies for social activities. LuLu recognizes 23 Units. Clubs, however, are organized essentially for social activities and predominantly include their Ladies in most events. LuLu has five Shrine Clubs. They meet monthly for dinner and fellowship in public places – restaurants, Country Clubs, etc. These Clubs generally carry the name of the locations where they meet – i.e. Bucks County Shrine Club, Northeast Shrine Club, Delaware County Shrine Club, etc.


To fully participate in the Shrine, support the Hospital, and enjoy the fellowship of the local Temple, it is recommended that a Noble join at least one Unit and one Club, and include his Lady and family in the social activities.
Submitted by Harry F. Speth, Jr./Historian

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