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Scottish Rite Masonic Center

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Masonic Temple
1902–1903, W.R. Parsons and Son. 333 Cedar St.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The Scottish Rite Masonic Center is South Dakota’s largest masonic temple. Yankton was the site of the first Masonic organization in the state, founded by Reverend Melancthon Hoyt in 1862. The order originally met at Hoyt’s log chapel until they moved to a downtown meeting space; when fire destroyed that building in 1901, the Masons erected a new structure, one of the tallest in town.

The two-and-a-half-story building has a raised basement, stretcher bond brick walls with sandstone accents, and a steeply pitched slate roof. Tourelles on the dormers and center gables contribute to the building’s Chateauesque appearance. The massive H-shaped plan is visually lightened by the many windows: round-arched on the second story and with stone sills and lintels on the first story and dormers. The main entrance is on the front (east) elevation in a full-height projecting bay; the doors are located in a pair of rounded arch openings. The basement’s banded brickwork, topped with a stone beltcourse, also visually reduces the mass of the building, which remains Yankton’s largest downtown structure. Several Masonic emblems are carved into round stone panels attached to the building.

The central meeting space is on the main level, which also contains offices in the southeast corner, an additional meeting room on the west side, library in the northeast corner, and preparation rooms in the northwest corner. The second floor is arranged around a stage and hall, which are surrounded by chorus and prop rooms, storage, and a classroom. On the third floor is a theater, the most important space in the lodge, where members participate in ritual performances. On the east side is a balcony. The painted backdrops date from 1917 and, along with those in the Deadwood Masonic Lodge, are some of the best preserved stage backdrops in the country. The theater also features a lighting system that dates to circa 1917 and is still in use.

The building continues to serve the Yankton Masons.


Brockman, C. Lance. Theatre of the Fraternity, Staging the Ritual Space of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1896-1929. Minneapolis: Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, 1996.

Karolevitz, Robert F. Yankton: A Pioneer Past. Aberdeen, SD: North Plains Press, 1972.

Moore, William D. “The Masonic Lodge Room, 1870-1930: A Sacred Space of Masculine Spiritual Hierarchy.” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 5 (1995), 26-39.

Yankton County Historical Society. History of Yankton County, South Dakota. Dallas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1987.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1902


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Michelle L. Dennis, "Scottish Rite Masonic Center", [Yankton, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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