WHEELING - Famed trans-Atlantic pilot Charles A. Lindbergh once dined there, and Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing was a distinguished member.
The history of the Wheeling Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite dates back to 1876. Its current home, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, has stood at 83 14th St. since 1915.
Today, state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, serves as sovereign grand inspector general for the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction Orient of West Virginia, and he has placed his office in the Wheeling building.
Photo by Joselyn King
State Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, also sovereign grand inspector general for the Wheeling Valley of the West Virginia Scottish Rite Masons, shows a photo of a large class of new inductees into the organization taken in 1916.
As SGIG, Yost oversees the seven Scottish Rite "valleys" in the state, which include those in Wheeling, Parkersburg, Charleston, Huntington, Bluefield, Morgantown and Martinsburg.
Yost is the first SGIG to come from the Scottish Rite's valley of Wheeling since 1889.
He recently held his unofficial swearing-in as state senator at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Wheeling.
Yost said an original Scottish Rite Cathedral was built on Market Street in 1907, but it was destroyed by fire in 1915. The current Scottish Rite Cathedral was constructed on 14th Street.
"It's walls and floors were built of solid concrete so this one wouldn't burn down," he noted.
The building is named for Dr. William Morris, who served as the second SGIG in West Virginia in the late 1800s.
The first SGIG was Odel Squire Long.
The cathedral's biggest day was Aug. 4, 1927, when it hosted a reception and banquet for Lindbergh.
Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, and he came to Wheeling as part of a tour promoting his feat.
Nearly 100 years after its construction, the cathedral continues to stand but is in need of renovation, Yost acknowledged. Members are working to upgrade the television and social areas, where they most often congregate.
But the Scottish Rite has far fewer members than it once did, and many rooms on the upper floors of the seven-story building largely go unused. One of them - a large grand ballroom - seldom sees activity.
Another impressive room is the library, filled with historical volumes and set off by dark woodwork.
"We just need to get our building back up to par," Yost said. "Folks are donating their time to renovate because it really is a hidden jewel in Wheeling."
The Scottish Rite encourages its members to do the right thing - improve themselves and help their communities. The organization supports efforts in speech therapy, and the Wheeling valley works frequently with the Augusta Levy Learning Center.
"We want Wheeling to do more to help children," Yost said.