The Abu Bekr Shrine

Abu Bekr Shrine

Abu Bekr Temple was organized in March, 1907, with a nucleus of 30 Nobles living in Sioux City and Since that day over 100 years ago Abu Bekr Temple has grown to include a wide area encompassing much of Western Iowa, 2 counties in NE Nebraska and 2 in SE South Dakota.

Will H. Beck, a pioneer Sioux City jeweler, headed a committee to establish a Temple in Sioux City and was joined in the effort by David M. Brownlee, George E.. Ward, J. E. Henriques, A. L Fribourg, A. A. Smith, E.. G. Dilley and Torn Steele.

George D. Perkins, pioneer publisher of Sioux City Journal, headed a committee to select a name for the Temple and they settled on Abu Bekr, disciple of the Prophet Mohammed.

Bylaws were adopted and officers elected in September, 1907, and Beck was the logical choice for the first Illustrious Potentate of Abu Bekr Temple. He served for the rest of 1907 and all of 1908 before being succeeded by Brownlee, who was the Temple’s first Chief Rabban. Of the Founding Fathers, Smith and Dilley also rose to the office of Potentate.

The first ceremonial was held on October l7, l907, when the first class of novices crossed the burning sands. With the first initiates and other Shriners who had settled in Sioux City, the charter membership of Abu Bekr Temple reached 400.

Almost immediately a Foot Patrol was organized under Capt. Charles A. Borman to represent the Temple at the Imperial Session in St. Paul in 1908. Today there are 24 organized uniform units of Abu Bekr Temple and eight Shrine Clubs.

Abu Bekr originally included only Sioux City Shriners, but by action of the Imperial Council in June, 1922, the jurisdiction was enlarged to include 22 counties in Western Iowa. They are: Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Emmet, Sioux, O’Brian, Clay, Palo, Alto, Kossuth, Plymouth, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Woodbury, Ida, Sac, Monona, Crawford, Harrison, Shelby and Pottawattamíe.

The dedication of the Masonic Temple at Ninth and Nebraska Streets in 1922 provided Abu Bekr with a lavish home for activities of the Nobles from the widespread area.

The auditorium adapted comfortably to class initiations, musicales, even funerals of some Illustrious Shriners down through the years. The large dining hall and kitchen provided excellent facilities for the Moslem Feasts served thousands of Shriners who gathered for the semi-annual Ceremonials. Today the Temple is in its 72nd year of service to Masonry and the Shrine, providing year-round quarters for the various activities.

But succeeding years have seen other acquisitions, making the Temple the only property-holder of the full half block between Eighth and Ninth on Nebraska Street.

The building on the corner of Eighth and Nebraska Streets which formerly housed insurance offices was purchased in 1971 during the reign of Illustrious Potentate L. F. “Bud” Pierce, who served as Recorder. -

The A. C. Dohrmann Construction Co. converted the building into outstanding club rooms for the Elbon Club. Prior to that the Elbon Club had been located on the ground floor level of the Warrier Hotel and before that it was upstairs at 413 1/2 Nebraska Street in quarters now unoccupied.

Open house for the new Elbon Club was held in April, 1972 during the reign of Illustrious Potentate Rex Seitzinger of Onawa. Shriners were welcomed to a beautifully appointed facility which is the envy of Shrine Temples throughout the country. The prime motif is oak in the paneling and sturdy furniture. Thick carpeting covers cen11a,l area which is used for lunches and socializing.

There is a card room and sliding doors can seal off a portion of the main club room to provide an area for meetings and auxiliary luncheons.

But even with these Outstanding facilities, Abu Bekr Temple could not stand still. During the reign of Illustrious Potentate Stanley Evans in 1975, a $100,000 addition to the Elbon Club was begun and was completed in 1976 under Illustrious Potentate Harry Batcheller.

Its principal feature is the Red Fez Room, which will accommodate about 200 for meetings and dining. For social affairs, it quickly adapts itself to a dance hall with a bandstand and refreshment facilities. Many of the uniformed units hold their annual meetings and banquets in the room which also is available to the public on a rental basis.

In 1987 construction was started on a new parking lot across the street from the Temple. With pledges from our Nobles we have been able to build a parking lot with 50 spaces. This has been sadly needed for many years.

Abu Bekr Temple shares facilities that range from the majestic and ornate of bygone years to the convenience of ultra-Modern design, which embodies its mission of treasuring history while reaching into the future for the youth who will perpetuate its existence.

In 1989, Illustrious Sir K. Wayne Johnson moved the Shrine Office to 820 Nebraska Street, inside the Masonic Temple Building. This same year, the Potentate and Divan began the acquisition of slightly more than 1/4 of the block on Jackson Street, just across the alley SE of the Temple including 2 small apartment buildings.

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