Alee Temple, Ancient Arabic order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, was organized on June 23rd, 1896, pursuant to a dispensation granted by the Imperial Council in session at Cleveland, Ohio. It was the 74th Temple created by the parent body.
At that time there were but eight Nobles of the Order living in Savannah. They were: John A. G. Carson, John H. Cavanaugh, Henry S. Colding, William D. Krenson, William Lattimore, Alfred S. Nichols, William C. Offutt and Robert A. Rowlinski. The number being so meager the Imperial Potentate (Harrison Dingman) issued a dispensation for Noble John H. Cavanaugh to communicate the Order to (5) Novices, thus bringing in the the number to thirteen, the same number comprising the initial membership of Mecca, the first Temple. On October 28, 1896, a meeting was held in a hall situated in the building on the Northeast corner of Broughton and Whitaker Streets and on which occasion the Order was communicated to Thomas Ballantyne, Robert L. Colding, Ernest A. Cutts, Dr. A. B. Simmons and Julian Walker. It is noteworthy that Noble Cutts subsequently became Imperial Potentate, serving as such in 1921-1922.
The charter was granted at the next meeting of the Imperial Council and Alee Temple began its growth. There were forty-two members by this time. At the constitution of the Temple, Past Imperial Potentate Harrison Dingman acted as Installing Officer and Imperial Recorder B. W. Rowell was the Marshal of Ceremonies. The following officers were elected, selected and installed on this occasion:
Illustrious Potentate John H. Cavanaugh
Chief Rabban H. Emmett Wilson
Assistant Rabban Thomas Ballantyne
High Priest and Prophet Ernest A. Cutts
Oriental Guide Dr. A. B. Simmons
Treasurer Alfred S. Nichols
Recorder Robert L. Colding
1st Ceremonial Master Joseph W. Jackson
2nd Ceremonial Master W. R. McIntyre
Director C. Fraser (Bud) Law
Marshal Dr. Henry S. Colding
Captain of the Guard William Lattimore
Outer Guard Thomas Robbins
Choir Julian Walker
E. K. Demmond
William A. Reaves
Also present at the installation services were the following Nobles of the Mystic Shrine as members of the Alee Temple: Dr. R. J. Nunn, S.P. Hamilton, W. C. Offutt, John W. smith, William D. Krenson, Armin B. Palmer, William I. O’Brien, J. A. G. Carson, Rufus E. Lester, John N. Geil, Dr. J. D. Paige, F. S. Jette, John Sullivan, George A. Breck, Thomas F. Thomson, W. B. Stillwell, Julian Schley, John C. Rowland, John R. Young, John M. Walker, Dr. T. P. Waring, John Riley, Robert A. Rowlinski, T. E. Youman, J. R. Saussy, Charles C. Ely, W. E. Guerard, H. P. Smart, J. H. Kinzie and J. H. Estill. All of these Nobles were outstanding business and professional men of the community.
Chartered in June 1896 with a membership of 42, the Temple enjoyed a healthy steady growth in numbers through the years until a peak of 3665 was reached in 1923. During the depression of the early thirties a gradual loss was experienced, reducing the number of Nobles to 1383 at the beginning of 1937. These year by year losses were mostly due to suspensions in the Blue Lodges and prerequisite bodies. Beginning in 1940 regular membership increased until the membership peaked at 3063. In 1950, Hasan Temple in Albany, Georgia, was created taking about 800 Nobles from Alee. The present membership of our Temple is 1892.
In the field of “worldly goods” our organization has lived through good times and bad, acquiring property, selling property and acquiring again. Prior to 1920 the Temple meetings were held in the Masonic Temple at Liberty and Whitaker Streets and in the Guards Hall at Bull and Charlton Streets. In 1921, a home at 429 Bull Street was purchased and occupied. The price paid was $45,000. In 1923 the Savannah Yacht Club at Thunderbolt was purchased by Alee Temple for $20,000 and sold in 1944 for $35,000. In 1951, Alee Temple purchased the Walthour Home on Wilmington Island for $40,000 and paid for furnishing and improvements totaling another $43,000. Alee purchased the present location at 100 Eisenburg Drive in 1966. The site presently holds our Mosque/Ballroom, an Arena, the Bill Porter Room, and the Woody Dyches Building. In addition, the Lewis Building hosts 10 meeting rooms and we built a 10 stall garage. In recent years, we added a building for a permanent home for our popular Haunted House.
Our current membership is 1892, we have countless active patients: at the Tampa, Florida Shrine Hospital; the Greenville, South Carolina Shrine Hospital; the Cincinnati, Ohio Shrine Hospital and the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Shrine Hospital. We transport many families each month in our Hospital Vans. We have been donating over $225,000.00 per year over the past 4 years to the Hospitals.