Our History

summarized by William M. Korn

The idea of forming a new Shrine Temple (as originally called) in Albany, NY was the brainchild of Imperial Sir Walter M. Fleming (first Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America 1876 – 1886). There were only four Temples chartered at the time – Mecca #1 in New York City, Damascus #2 in Webster, NY, Mount Sinai #3 in Montpelier, VT, and Al Koran #4 in Broadview Heights, OH.

It was in 1875 that Imperial Sir Fleming selected some prominent members of Mecca Temple #1 in New York City to establish subordinate Temples. Among those appointed were John S. Dickerman, Townsend Fondey and Robert Waterman, who resided in Albany, New York. In January 1877, Townsend Fondey organized a Shrine Temple at the Masonic Temple in Albany, NY. Although no name was assigned, a dispensation was granted and certificates of membership issued to the members as Nobles-at-Large, bearing the date January 22, 1877.

Cyprus Temple was formally organized February 1, 1877 at the New York National Guard, Ninth Brigade Headquarters, 92 State Street, Albany, NY. John S. Dickerman (one of the founders) convened the meeting at which time James Ten Eyck was elected Potentate; Theodore D. Smith – Chief Rabban; Adam Cook – Assistant Rabban; Joseph M. Lawson – High Priest and Prophet; William H. Haskell – Treasurer; and David M. Woodhall – Recorder.

Cyprus Temple’s first public parade in Albany was on the evening of November 24, 1892, it being the occasion of the reception and serenade to Imperial Potentate William B. Melish and Mrs. Melish at the Delevan House. One hundred and fifty Nobles were in line under Illustious Potentate Thomas J. Bishop, and preceded by a band of twenty pieces and a camel gorgeously caparisoned and in the charge of two Oriental keepers, left the Masonic Temple at 7:30 PM and paraded through the principal streets enroute to the Delevan House where the ceremony of reception and serenade to the distinguished guest and his wife took place.

The Fiftieth birthday of Cyprus Temple triggered a giant Jubilee, and proved to be one of the most outstanding events in the history of our Temple.

The first Cyprus Shrine Circus was held the week of February 20, 1928, at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany, NY. That year’s profit totaled $2,574. Since then, we have continued to sponsor Shrine Circuses in the Albany area for 74 years.

At its April 26, 1930 Ceremonial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was included in the class of candidates. He modestly listed his occupation as “lawyer” on his petition, but was at that time Governor of New York State (soon to become the 32nd President of the United States). The Governor was created a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Cyprus Temple and Noble Roosevelt continued to be a member in good standing until the time of his death in 1945.

A gala celebration of our 100th Anniversary took place on May 14, 1977 at the Turf Inn in Colonie, New York.

Our organization’s publication, “Cyprus News”, was first distributed in 1939 during the administration of Ill. Ralph D. Maguire, Potentate.

Phoenix Masonry put together a nice document called “A Short History” about the Shriners and Shriners Childrens Hospitals.