Abu Bekr Shrine Temple
Finishing up this week, we are going to look at the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple as a wedding venue. I personally have been to one wedding here, and was amazed at the splendor contained within
Finishing up this week, we are going to look at the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple as a wedding venue. I personally have been to one wedding here, and was amazed at the splendor contained within this rather discreet building on Nebraska Street.
Many of you probably drive right past the Shrine Temple without realizing its historical significance to Sioux City and Siouxland. Well, I invite you to come with as we rediscover this hidden secret right in our own town.
THE WAIT IS OVER
When I made my list of wedding venues last month, one of the first venues I wrote down was the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple. My husband and I went to a wedding here almost five years ago, and the beauty of this building resonated with me all these years later.
Therefore, knowing this venue was an option to bride-to-be’s, I looked up their schedule of events, and found that every third Wednesday was burger night. Perfect! So, I put it on my schedule, and a co-worker of mine joined me on my endeavor.
We arrived, parked on the street right in front of the temple, walked in, and I introduced myself to the bar tender. She immediately introduced me to a gentleman who proceeded to give us a private tour!
Walking down a hallway, past memorabilia, we arrived at the Mezzanine. I felt like Princess Jasmine in Aladdin. How can this majestic temple exist here in Sioux City so inconspicuously? Designed to seat 200 guests, this room features hand-painted ceilings and hand-carved wood. At the front of the room is a stone fireplace, and looking down from above is a wrap-around balcony.
Wanting to see the Mezzanine from above, we walked up the marble staircase, and peaking over the landing was one of the most perfect backdrops any newly married couple could appreciate. From up here you get a closer view of the ceiling and pillars. And also, up here are portraits of past Potentates in their traditional Masonic dress.
During our tour I took notes, since there was so much information being discussed, I knew I wouldn’t remember everything. For starters, the Shrine Temple was organized in 1907, beginning this chapter of Free Masons with thirty Sioux City men, headed by local jeweler Will H. Beck. The name Abu Bekr comes from the disciple of Prophet Mohammed, and was chosen by George D. Perkins, who founded the Sioux City Journal.
Growing to over 400 Shriners, in twenty-two Iowa counties, Abu Bekr realized they needed a home base for activities, meetings, and seminars. Therefore, the Shrine Temple on 8th and Nebraska was conceived and constructed.
Built in 1921, at a cost of $550,000 dollars, it would require a budget of $8 million dollars to complete today! Opening to Shriners only in 1922, it would hold private social events for members only. On select occasions it was open to the public, for example when the Shrine Circus would come to town.
SHRINE CIRCUS AND MORE!
This leads me to where they held the Shrine Circus. Strolling down a curved hallway, we arrived at the amazing and historic auditorium. At this point my heart was pounding, and I felt like I almost lost my breath. But the tour was about to get even better!
Have you ever heard of the Golden Gloves? Vaudeville shows? Or even George Burns? The Abu Bekr Shrine Temple was the place to be in the 1960s. Several famous magicians even made their visit during the second half of the century.
IT STILL WORKS?
As we approached the auditorium from the back stage entrance, we were greeted by the original 1922 switchboard! And it still works! Unbelievably, the lighting is also original!
Additionally, the stage lighting is original as well. It truly is remarkable that these nearly 100-year-old light fixtures and their wiring have not deteriorated.
Peaking around the red stage curtains, which are also from 1922, you get a glimpse of the auditorium floor and its wood seats, which are capable of seating 1300 attendees. However, if you plan to have your event here, chairs and tables will be setup on the floor space. Allowing a maximum of 220 guests, this would be a perfect venue for a moderately-sized wedding.
Just as the Mezzanine, the incredibly tall ceilings are hand painted, with an interior design detail of gold leafing! Simply amazing.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
In 1979, it was decided to open the Shrine Temple to the public for scheduled events, and private parties. This was an excellent decision since it brought in an increase of revenue to the temple which could then be poured back into the community.Pictured above are flyers found on Abu Bekr’s Facebook page.
Parades, Children’s Hospital fundraisers, and Spaghetti Night are a few of the yearly events which are hosted by the Shrine Temple. In fact, Hamburger Night began about ten years ago, and has remained a regularly attended event for those who want to support this local agency.
RENTAL FEES AND NEED-TO-KNOWS
Cost to rent out the Shrine Temple depends on several factors. Are you renting the Mezzanine or the auditorium? How many guests? And who will you have cater your event? To find out specifics you will need to email or call the Shrine Temple with your questions and requests.
Take note, however, that the Shrine Temple does carry a liquor license, and that they employ their own bar tenders for your event. No outside liquor is permitted, but you may be able to ask for a corking fee if you want to bring in your own wine.
820 Nebraska Street
Sioux City, Iowa 51101
Email: [email protected]
For those who want an enchanted Arabian-night themed wedding, consider the Shrine Temple. Oozing in cryptic secrets, you could also have a Murder Mystery dinner here. How fun would that be?
Details and photos from the The Siouxland Blog