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Long Beach Scottish Rite

Long Beach Scottish Rite

Architects: Wright and Gentry

First Opened: 11th September 1926 (97 years ago)

Websites: lbscottish-rite.com Open website in new window   ernestborgninetheatre.org Open website in new window

Telephone: (562) 436-3983 Call (562) 436-3983

Address: 855 Elm Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90813 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

The Scottish Rite Cathedral in the City of Long Beach was dedicated in September 1926, and like similar cathedrals of its time, contains a performance space fitted-out with scenic backdrops and the other accoutrements necessary for degree teachings. The theatre is now used for weddings, theatrical performances, and other events.

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Detailed Information

Long Beach Scottish Rite in 1927
Long Beach Scottish Rite in 1927

Following a groundbreaking ceremony in July 1925, the building’s skeleton of steel – weighing roughly 500 tons – was installed in just 27 days.

The cathedral was dedicated on Saturday 11th September 1926, the culmination of a three day ceremony which saw several hundred Masons invested. Scottish Rite Masons from the Valleys of San Diego, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles attended the dedication. The Los Angeles Times noted that the new building plus furnishings were estimated to have cost $500,000.

The building was designed by architects Wright and Gentry in a Romanesque Revival style, utilizing terracotta on much of the exterior detail. The general contractor was W.E. Campbell.

The building’s auditorium was equipped with a 2-manual, 17-rank organ (opus 156) supplied by the Reuter Organ Company in Kansas. The original organ is still in situ although may need some work.

The 1926 auditorium, now called the <i>Ernest Borgnine Theatre</i>, as photographed in 2023
The 1926 auditorium, now called the Ernest Borgnine Theatre, as photographed in 2023

In 1980, the building became the eighth structure to be designated as a Long Beach Historic Landmark. At the time, the Los Angeles Times referred to it as an “enormous” building with an “imposing façade” and an “elaborately decorated main auditorium.”

More recently, the theatre space has been renamed as the Ernest Borgnine Theatre, in honor of Ernest Borgnine, 33° degree Mason, Academy Award winner, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

The 800-seat theatre which now bears his name is capable of hosting a range of theatrical, social, corporate, and wedding events. Their website is at ernestborgninetheatre.org Link opens in new window.

The 800-seat auditorium has both main floor and balcony seating in a traditional proscenium arch style theatre.

The theatre is home to over 70 historic backdrops, originally associated with masonic teachings and installed into the building in 1926, and now available for general use. Settings include landscapes, formal settings, and abstract art.

Listed/Landmark Building Status

Further Reading


Historic Photos & Documents
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Photos of the Long Beach Scottish Rite

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Auditorium
  2. Public Areas
  3. Exterior
  4. Roof
  5. Backstage
  6. Fly Floor
  7. Attic & Organ Chambers
  8. Basement
  9. Projection Booth
Public Areas
Fly Floor
Attic & Organ Chambers

The large basement area hosts 1920s-era HVAC equipment as well as the 1960s-era dimmer rack installed by Century Lighting. The “C-Core” dimmers (solid state SCR technology) are identical to those installed at the Pasadena Scottish Rite.

Projection Booth

Projection capabilities have been closed-up for many years, however the projection booth still exists. Projection ports are currently blocked-up however a small view of the auditorium can still be seen through the main projection port.

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