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Medinah Temple’s Incredible Moorish Revival Architecture in Chicago

front, Medinah Temple (1912), 600 North Wabash...

Image by lumierefl via Flickr[

List of Masonic buildings in the United States

List of Masonic buildings in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicago is endowed with an incredible lakefront, beautiful sandy beaches and a magnificent skyline filled with legendary architecture.

Oak Street Beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago

Brilliant architects like Louis Sullivan created an atmosphere for world-class design. Sullivan’s influential designs inspired the Chicago School of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright who have come to be known as the Prairie School.

Although Chicago is loaded with magnificent architecture, one building that stands out for it’s innovative design is the Medinah Temple at 600 N. Wabash.

The Medinah Temple in Chicago


 The building is located in the upscale North Bridge neighborhood of Chicago on the Near North Side where Wabash intersects Ohio Street.

This area is a tourist mecca; loaded with plenty of interesting hotels and stores. There are outstanding restaurants like Joe’s, Benny’s and Flemings in the neighborhood.

The area also is home to some landmark Chicago deep-dish pizza establishments like Pizzeria Uno and Due in this River North neighborhood . The first Uno’s was established in 1943 by former University of Texas football star Ike Sewell and his friend Rick Ricardo.  The original recipe was created by chef Rudy Malnati, the father of Lou Malnati‘s pizzeria, another one of my favorites. Pizzeria Uno claims to have created the original Chicago deep-dish pizza.


But one of my all-time  favorite buildings in this area is the Medinah Temple. The Medinah Temple was the venue for the annual Shrine Circus that was affiliated with the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners). The organization is best-known for administering the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The members wear red fezzes (hats) and the fellowship is based upon the “Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth”.

Shriner’s Fezz Hat


I grew up near the Shriners Hospital in Chicago. When I was a young girl, I remember going to their circus in the Medinah Temple and being awestruck by the massive auditorium and the gorgeous Austin Organ Company pipe organ.


In 2000, the building’s exterior was lovingly restored and the inside of the ornate auditorium was converted into a Bloomingdale’s Home and Furniture Store. The store is loaded with artistic displays that highlight the architectural beauty of the building.

Bloomingdale’s colorful display of art-glass in Chicago


The building was designated as a Chicago Landmark on June 27, 2001.

I love the intricate detail on the exterior of the building.

Facade of the Medinah Temple in Chicago


The colorful Islamic Moorish Revival architecture of the Medinah Temple was built in 1912. It was built by the Shriners architects Huehl and Schmidt. The colorful domes, ornate ceiling  and arched stained-glass windows resemble the Alcazar in Segovia Spain.

Ceiling of the Medinah Temple in Chicago

Originally, the building served as an ornate auditorium with  U-shape seating  for about 4,200 people on three levels. The building is also famous for the acoustics of the auditorium. The fine acoustics of the Medinah Temple’s auditorium made it a favorite site for recording. Many of the Chicago Symphony‘s most famous recordings conducted by Sir Georg Solti were created in this building.

Today you can shop at the Bloomingdale’s Home Store but that’s about to change because they are moving back to 900 MICHIGAN.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ Follow us on Twitter for Blog Updates.

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