Jerry Summers: Alhambra Temple Shriners

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

A colleague once described Shriners as “heavy set members, driving big cars, who like to party, and care greatly about crippled children.”  While that description may be a little broad, it does convey the important message of the tremendous work that the Masonic Order members perform on behalf of the hundreds of crippled children that they have helped over the years since the local chapter was formed in 1890. 

            The local unit was formed after a visit to Chattanooga on September 15, 1889, by Illustrious Potentate Sam Briggs, who was the second Imperial Potentate in the Ancient Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. His visit was at the request of a group of Masonic leaders interested in the establishment of a Shrine Center, and it resulted in the creation of the Alhambra Temple.  Major George Cooper was installed as the first Potentate (President) and nine other charter members were also installed.  Alhambra thus became the fiftieth Shrine Center in the United States and the first in Tennessee. 

            Over the years the Mosque (center) has been at several locations with the longest residence being east of the south end of Market Street.  It is presently domiciled at 1000 Alhambra Drive, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421, just off I-75 in the East Brainerd area.  The facility is available to the public for rental and contains a 10,000-square-foot ballroom with a full kitchen, free on-site parking, security, and other amenities.  

            The Shriners over the years have been big participants in the annual downtown Armed Forces Parade with their various horse units, clown unit and others.  One of the initiation requirements for membership for new members was the riding of an iron horse named “Ole Ned” that required the inductees to straddle the device. The horse was attached to a battery and on occasions a non-lethal electric current was activated. The reactions of the new Shriners always brought a big laugh from the viewers of the parade as the device moved north on Market Street.

            The local support of Alhambra Temple for the various Shriners Children’s Hospitals across the nation is legendary.  Through candy sales, gun shows or July 4th barbeques, or the annual Shrine Circus, the chapter makes significant contributions.  With these proceeds the treatment of children is possible at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

            Shriners International Alhambra Temple is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth with nearly 200 temples in several countries and thousands of individual clubs in each chapter around the world.

          All Alhambra Temple fundraising events, the B-B-Q, circus, gun show, candy sales, etc. have been cancelled due to the virus so please consider donations or renting of the facilities in Brainerd in order that they can continue to contribute towards the Shriners Hospitals. 

            For more information about the Alhambra Temple contact Ken Bailey at recorder@alhambrashrine.com.

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com  

Ole Ned
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