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A Century of Legacy: Abou Ben Adhem Shrine's Remarkable Journey

A emblematic Abou Ben Adhem Shrine, renowned for its striking Arabesque design that distinguishes it from the surrounding architectural landscape of downtown Springfield, is preparing to commemorate its momentous centenary this year.

With its construction finalized in November 1923, this historic venue has played an integral role in the cultural fabric of the region.

Serving as the distinguished headquarters of the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners, this hallowed space has witnessed countless legendary musical performances.

Icons like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, REO Speedwagon, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Bob Dylan have graced its stage, leaving an indelible mark on its storied history.

The Abou Ben Adhem Shrine has also had the honor of hosting notable former U.S. presidents, including Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

At the time of its construction, the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine was a true marvel, earning the distinction of being the largest auditorium west of the Mississippi River.

Second in size only to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, this venue was a testament to architectural grandeur.

Remarkably, it stands today as the sole building along Route 66 in Springfield that continues to serve its original purpose, preserving its rich heritage.

To celebrate the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine's enduring legacy, the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners have organized a grand 100th birthday celebration scheduled for Saturday, October 21st, from 8 to 11 p.m.

Attendees can indulge in delectable appetizers, delightful cupcakes, and beverages available at a cash bar, all while enjoying the live music provided by the talented Yachtly Groove Band. General admission tickets for this unforgettable event can be purchased on Eventbrite for just $10.

Prior to the evening's festivities, a special rededication ceremony for the venue will take place at 6 p.m. This will be followed by a formal dinner at 6 p.m., exclusively for Shriner nobles and invited guests.

It's important to clarify that although the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine's architecture may resemble that of a traditional mosque, it is not one. Despite its colloquial nickname as the "Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque" among locals, "mosque" is not part of the building's official name, registered as the "Abou Ben Adhem Temple" on its liquor business license.

In historical context, the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners, a local chapter of Shriners International, embarked on a nearly two-decade journey before the construction of the Springfield shrine was completed.

During this period, the organization held its meetings in the former Masonic Lodge, now known as the Hotel Vandivort, located in downtown Springfield. The decision to construct their auditorium was made in October 1920.

A display of an Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Patrol uniform in the Shrine's museum in the basement on Friday, September 8, 2023, as part of the Shrine's centennial celebration this autumn.

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