Oasis Shriners trace their history back to 1894, when Walter Scott
"Daddy" Liddell and eight Knights Templer of the Charlotte
Commandery No.2 petitioned Acca Temple in Richmond, Va., to
organize a Shrine Temple in North Carolina, actually the
first in the Carolinas, North and South. Those joining with
Liddell were Belk department store founder William Henry
Belk, Dr. J.F. Robertson, B. Swift Davis, John Farrier, C.L.
Hopkins, W.B. Summersett, D.E. Allen, and George
Merideth. The Charter was granted on Oct. 10, 1894, by Imperial
Potentate William B. Melish of Cincinnati.
Liddell, a 33rd
Degree Scottish Rite Mason, Knight Templer, and past Master of
lodge,Phalanx No.31 in
Charlotte, served as Potentate of Oasis for four years and was
Grand Masterof Masons in 1904
and 1905. He was the Oasis Imperial representative
Emeritus statusuntil his death
in 1940. In addition to Illustrious Sir Walter, the
original Divan of the newly-formedtemple were:
Chief Rabban W.B. Summersett,
Assistant Rabban E.E. Allen, High
Priest andProfit D.S.
Davis, Oriental Guide J.F.
Robertson, Recorder John Farrier,
Treasurer C.L. Hopkins,First Ceremonial Master
Barron, Second Ceremonial Master J.W. Courtland, Captain of theGuard William Henry
Belk, Outer Guard George Merideth and Marshall C.L. Hoffman. Initially, there
no director, but later D.G. Maxwell was named to the post and all the original
Divan was appointed by Imperial Potentate Melish.
The first meeting was held at what was called Shrine Hall in
downtown Charlotte on January 18, 1895. The next day,
with the assistance of Acca
Temple representatives, 18 new nobles were initiated into the
newly-formed Oasis Temple.
That first ceremonial ended
with a dinner in the Masonic Hall (A place thought to be the
same structure as Shrine Hall)
One of the first
applications received after the initial charter membership was
came from J.M.
Belk, W. Henry's brother, and the first Oasis affiliation was
who demitted from
Jerusalem Temple in New Orleans. As the Membership grew,
it spread across
North and South Carolina, with initiates coming from Asheville,
Charleston. The first honorary memberships went to George Street
of Acca Temple
and Past Acca Potentate Louis Ecken.
In the 18 years following, the
Shrine organization expanded into Mexico
and the Republic of Panama
and many of the organization's traditions
began, such as the first Shrine Circus
in Detroit in1906 and the
expansion of philanthropy.
$25,000 to earthquake victims in San Francisco in 1906 and gave
$10,000 for the relief of European war victims, both
considered enormous sums at the time.
But what would be known as
"The World's Greatest Philanthropy, " the Shriners Hospitals
for Children, emerged as the organization's number one cause in 1920
Imperial resolution established the "Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children,"
supported by a $2 per
The Cornerstone was laid for the first hospital in 1922 in Shreveport,
Louisiana. Five years later,
the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in
Greenville, S.C., opened, and by 1997 a network
of 22 hospitals made up
the system, now known as Shriners Hospitals for
providing orthopedic, burn and spinal care for children around
Oasis Shriners were also vigilant during wartime, and celebrated with
the rest of the
world at the end of each conflict. In the October 1945 issue
of the Desert Dust,
Imperial Potentate William H. Woodfield Jr. said of
World War II Shrine veterans:
"More than 50,000 fellow
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine served their country in the
during this worst of wars. Many will not return.
Their names are marked
by a gold star on our rolls of honor". "To these
men whom we all knew and to all who
supreme sacrifice, and to their families and friends, there are no words
to express our humble gratitude and
thanks for their deeds," Imperial Sir William said.
Also during the growth of Shrinedom in the 20th Century came expansion
of the organization in the Carolinas. Omar Temple was
chartered in Charleston, S.C.,
in 1907, Sudan Temple in New
Burn, N.C., in 1917, Greenville's Hejaz in
Columbia's Jamil in 1974 and Raleigh's Amran in 1976.
One of the most
significant modern milestones for Oasis came in 1987, with the
construction of its new headquarters mosque
in the University City area of north
Charlotte after spending virtually
all of its first 90-odd years in
Ground was broken at the new building on March 20,
1987, in a ceremony attended by
local government, civic and political leaders along with representation
for the nobility
Carolinas and on the Imperial level. A week later a commemorative
plaque was installed by the
Grand Lodge of AF & AM of N.C. by Grand Master
Bud McCall and Oasis
Potentate Tommy Arakas.
completed 55,000 square-foot building, complete with it enormous
auditorium, practice area, meeting
offices and restaurant, was dedicated in June 1988. Oasis, with
members, still stands as the
"Largest" of All the 193 temples in
North America. A combined membership of
more than one quarter of a million
is governed by the Imperial Council, the chief executive officer is the
Imperial Potentate, elected each
year in July for a one-year term. The Shriners
International general offices are in Tampa, Fla.