By definition a “consistory” is a solemn assembly. In Coudersport, the Scottish Rite Masons, with notable determination, won the right to dispense the highest degrees in Masonry, a right usually reserved for the largest temples in urban places. In 1912, the Masons purchased the house built in 1887 for local lawyer and entrepreneur Isaac Benson, its elaborate carriage house, and the surrounding twenty-seven acres. When they needed more space for assemblies, they commissioned fellow Mason Edward A. Phillips, of Warren, to design the first of their temples in 1913. Fourteen years later, another building committee commissioned Phillips to design an 1,100-seat auditorium that he attached by a one-story wing to match the Great Hall of 1913.
The Benson house is a brick Queen Anne, festooned with turrets and dormers. Inside, the rooms are decorated with a litany of woods, including oak, cherry, pine, butternut, sycamore, bird's-eye maple, black birch, and ash. Both the Great Hall and the auditorium are red brick Tudor Revival buildings, a bit churchlike in appearance as intended.