Tripoli Shrine Temple

Milwaukee, Wisconsin | C.1928

Photo Credit: Justin R. Hernandez

Passersby on West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin would be forgiven if they believe the Taj Mahal had moved itself stateside. But this temple inspired by one of the Seven Wonders of the World is the Tripoli Shrine Temple. Designed by architects Clas and Shepard in the Moorish Revival style, it opened in 1928 and was the first Shriners temple in the state.

Based off the Taj Mahal, the Temple is one of the best examples of Moorish Revival architecture in the United States. Commonly seen in synagogues and movie theaters, the Moorish Revival style is characterized by intricate, ornate decorative patterns and additional ornamentation in domes, arches, windows, doorways, and eaves.

The Shrine’s ornately tiled main dome, which spans 30 feet in diameter, crowns the structure and is flanked by two smaller domes of similar design. Sculptures depicting a pair of kneeling camels grace the entrance, and the interior is decorated with ceramic tile of intricate floral designs and plaster lattice work.

The Temple is not a religious building, rather it belongs to the Shriners, a fraternal order of men which was founded in New York City in 1872 and is composed of Master Freemasons. Known for their colorful parades, circuses, and clowns, the Shriners also dedicate their time to supporting children’s hospitals.

Today, the Tripoli Shrine Temple continues to operate as a place for public and member events. It also holds the honor of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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