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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

The Tripoli Mosque

Milwaukee’s Taj Mahal

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It is unlike any other building in Milwaukee. The Tripoli Mosque resides in a residential neighborhood on Wisconsin Avenue, just up the road from the Pabst Mansion. When the Clas, Shepherd & Clas architecture firm designed the structure in 1926, they based it loosely on the Taj Mahal and combined elements from Persian, Indian and Islamic architectural styles. Towering above the surrounding trees and three-story apartment buildings, the ornately tiled dome crowns a large building with twotoned stone coursing. Tall spires rise from each corner and the onion-shaped dome is flanked by two miniature versions of itself. A pair of camels carved of stone is posted at the foot of a wide staircase that leads to the Temple’s grand entrance.

The Tripoli Mosque is home to the Tripoli Shrine Temple, a Milwaukee chapter of Shrine Masons. Also known as Shriners, these men belong to the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America (A.A.O.N.M.S.), part of the oldest, largest and most widely

known fraternal organization in the world: Freemasonry. The Shrine was founded in New York City in 1872 when a small group of men belonging to the Masonic Order came up with an idea to create a fraternity within their fraternity that focuses on socializing and having fun. In addition to general merrymaking, members can join units like the Motor Corps, a group of redfez-wearing Shriners that scoot around in mini race cars during circuses and parades.

As they grew, the Shriners directed their energy toward helping others, including the Shriners Hospitals for Children, an international health care system of 22 hospitals providing pediatric specialty care, distinguished teaching programs and innovative research. Children up to 18 years old with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible to receive treatment free of charge, regardless of financial need.

In 1884 seven Milwaukee Masons petitioned the Imperial Shrine Council for a charter authorizing them to establish a Temple in Milwaukee. They met informally in the early days, then, in 1925, the Potentate appointed a committee to start the business of building a home for their Temple. After two and a half years and $616,999.61, the Mosque was dedicated in 1928.

3000 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 933-4700/

Photo by Kevin Gardner www.tripolishrine.com/ Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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