House of the Temple
One of Washington DC’s most unusual landmarks, the House of the Temple, located in Dupont Circle, is the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Built between 1911–1915 by storied architect John Russell Pope, and written about by popular author Dan Brown, the House of the Temple is free for visitors to explore.
The House of the Temple certainly makes an impression, even before you walk in the door. Considered one of the city’s top architectural highlights, the landmark was modeled after the Tomb of Mausolus in ancient Halicarnassus (among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). From the outside, its carved sphinxes and colonnades are hard to miss; inside, it features vaulted ceilings and ornate marble designs. Guided tours provide more information about Freemasonry and the building’s history, and include the chance to view its museum collections.
As the House of the Temple is free to visit, it’s easy to plan an independent excursion as part of your day out in DC.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The library within the House of the Temple was one of the first public libraries in the city, and still contains over 250,000 volumes today.
- Though it is a historical landmark, much of the House of the Temple is accessible to wheelchair users, thanks to elevators and other modern facilities.
- The House of the Temple features prominently in Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown’s 2009 novel, The Lost Symbol.
How to Get There
The House of the Temple is located on 16th Street NW. If using public transportation, take the Red Line to Dupont Circle Station or the Yellow and Green Lines to U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Station; both are roughly a 10-minute walk away. The landmark is also served by the S1, S2, and S4 buses, and can be reached by taxi, bike, or on foot.
When to Get There
The House of the Temple is open Monday–Thursday, from 8am–5pm. Visitors are invited to explore via free, guided tours, which are held at 10am, 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm. No tickets are required, and entry is free.
Other DC Architectural Highlights
The House of the Temple wasn’t architect John Russell Pope’s only Washington, DC, masterpiece. Pope went on to design many of the capital’s other most celebrated landmarks, including the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. Architecture enthusiasts can plan their own sightseeing itinerary to discover his masterpieces.
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