As the hospital network grew, the fraternity continued in its grand tradition. In 1923, there was a Shriner in the White House, and Noble/President William G. Harding reviewed the Shriners parade at the 1923 Imperial Session in Washington, D.C.
The East-West Shrine Game
The East-West Shrine College All-Star Football Game was established in 1925 in San Francisco with the motto “Strong Legs Run So Weak Legs May Walk.” Throughout its history, this traditional post-season game has raised millions of dollars for Shriners Hospitals and helped millions of people become more familiar with the story of Shriners Hospitals. In this, as in other Shrine football games, the young players visit patients at Shriners Hospitals, so that the players themselves know the real purpose of the game.
The Peace Memorial
In 1930, the Imperial Session was to be held in Toronto. For his Session, Imperial Potentate Leo V. Youngworth wanted something special. With the appropriate approval, the leader of 600,000 Shriners commissioned a peace monument to be built in Toronto. It was to face south, commemorating 150 years of friendship between the United States and Canada.
The Peace Memorial was relocated and rededicated during the 1962 Imperial Session, and it stands today outside the National Exposition grounds in Toronto. When the Shriners returned to Toronto in 1989 for the 115th Imperial Council Session, the memorial was again rededicated, representing a renewed commitment to the Shrine’s international brotherhood and fraternalism. The plaque reads: “Erected and dedicated to the cause of universal peace by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America June 12, 1930.”
The 1930 Session was the Shrine’s own antidote to the pervasive gloom of the Great Depression. But it was only temporary. Not even Shriners could escape the Depression. For the first time in its history, the Shrine began to lose members — the Nobles just could not pay their dues.
The struggle to keep the hospitals and the fraternity going during these years was enormous. It was necessary to dip into the Endowment Fund capital to cover operating costs of the hospitals. To ensure the financial distinction between the hospitals and the fraternity, a corporation for each was established in 1937.
The Shrine and its hospitals somehow survived the Depression. In the 1940s, like the rest of North America, the Shrine adjusted to wartime existence. Imperial Sessions were limited to business and were attended only by official Temple Representatives. Shrine parade units stayed home and marched in local patriotic parades. During the four years of war, more than $1 billion was invested by and through the Shrine in government war bonds. The hospital corporation also invested all of its available funds in government securities. After World War II, the economy improved, and men found renewed interest in fraternalism. By 1942, membership was once more increasing.
Shrine Rooms East and West
Alfred G. Arvold (El Zagal Temple, Fargo, N.D.), 1944-45 Imperial Potentate, became the only Shrine head in history who had no Imperial Session over which to preside. Only national Shrine officers and hospital trustees gathered in Chicago in 1945. Arvold made an impact nevertheless. He initiated, designed and made real his personal dream of special display rooms in the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Va. Millions of visitors have since been to those Memorial Shrine Rooms — now called Shrine Rooms East — which were refurbished in 1963.
In 1972, a new Shrine museum — International Shrine Rooms West — was established in the north wing of what had been the first San Francisco Shriners Hospital. In 1996, in anticipation of the closing of the San Francisco Shriners Hospital in 1997, Shrine Rooms West was closed and much of its key memorabilia was relocated to the Memorabilia Room at Shriners International Headquarters in Tampa.
Shrine General Offices
Until 1928, the Shrine’s national offices were in Richmond, Va. With the growth of the fraternity, there were increasing pressures to locate Shrine headquarters in some city that would be more convenient to all Temples. Thus, in 1958, the building at 323 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, was purchased. At a special session held April 10th, 1978, in Tampa, Fla., Representatives voted to relocate Shrine Headquarters to 2900 Rocky Point Drive in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa headquarters houses the administrative personnel for both the Iowa (fraternal) and Colorado (Shriners Hospitals) corporations, fraternal and hospital records, the attorneys who monitor the many estates involved in Shriners Hospitals for Children, and the various other departments that support the day-to-day operations of the Shrine fraternity and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Within a few years, however, it became apparent that additional space would be needed at headquarters, and an expansion project was begun in 1987 to meet the ever-expanding needs of the Shrine and Shriners Hospitals. A third wing, or pod, was added to the rear of the existing building, and the board room and executive offices for the fraternity and hospital system were relocated to the new area, allowing several departments to expand their offices in the original sections. The new, enlarged board room provides the necessary space for meetings of the Joint Boards and their committees, and for conferences involving personnel from Shriners Hospitals. In the late 1990s, the two original pods in front were expanded to provide additional office space for the growing staff, with a new look created for the front exterior of the building.
Today, the Shriners International Headquarters building, located on a busy causeway crossing Tampa Bay, continues to be one of the most recognizable structures in the area. With the “Editorial Without Words” statue standing prominently out front, it serves as a familiar landmark for the many motorists who cross the causeway each day.