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Guess? Brothers Turning Beautiful Masonic Temple on Wilshire Into Their Own Private Art Museum

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[Photos by Elizabeth Daniels]

Well, it seems that the beautiful Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire, more or less vacant since the mid-nineties, will be revived, but it'll be about as public as it was under the notoriously-secretive Masons--Guess?-founding brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano have bought the property (which has been on the market for nearly two decades) for $8 million and plan to turn it into a private art museum for their personal collections, "with occasional exhibitions open to the public," according to the LA Times. A gorgeous, historic building on Wilshire Boulevard: not for you, Los Angeles. The temple was designed by the artist Millard Sheets, who designed scads of mosaic- and stained-glass-adorned Home Savings bank buildings (now mostly Chases) starting in the 1950s.

The Scottish Rite's story (and photos) is here--Sheets said the Masons wanted to depict "the rights of man as an individual, and respect for various and creeds," and so he created for them his largest-ever mosaic, which "starts out with the builders of the temple from the days of Jerusalem, and King Solomon, who built the temple, and Babylon" and moves through history to "the first grand master of California in his full regalia being invested in Sacramento." It also has solid travertine sculptures of temple-builders (Solomon, George Washington) on the south facade, a recurring double-headed eagle motif, tons of other murals, a 1,500-seat dining room, a 3,000-seat auditorium, and "a very fine library." Sheets said "The temple is like a city."

Now that city will house the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, "a legacy project for the family," a rep tells the LAT. They're bringing in Culver City's wHY Architecture, who will preserve Sheets's work. The museum "should be up and running in a couple of years." While the temple is huge and gorgeous, it was a tough sell in part because of the neighbors--the agent who handled the sale for the Masons says "Windsor Square is the last homeowners association you want to get mad at you." But a rep says "a private art museum is something that would be allowed by zoning and would be welcome."
· Bluejeans moguls to turn Masonic lodge in L.A. into a private museum [LAT]
· Touring Sheets's Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire [Curbed LA]