Ararat Shrine was chartered in 1888 by the Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, later to be renamed Shriners International. Ararat was the 38th Shrine Temple to be granted a charter. The Ararat Shriners have called the Kansas City area their home since being chartered.
Many distinguished names are numbered among the members of the Ararat Shrine. Our officers and members have always been among the community's civic, religious, and fraternal leaders. We are extremely proud that for more than 50 years, a former President of the United States, Harry S. Truman was a member of Ararat Shrine and served on our Divan (leadership team). He later relinquished his position on the Divan when he assumed the responsibilities of becoming a United States Senator.
Ararat enjoys a unique position in "Shrinedom" in that we have produced more Imperial Officers than any other Shrine Center. The first member of Ararat Shriners to become Imperial Potentate (1898-99) was also our first Potentate, Mr. Ethelbert F. Allen. The second Past Potentate of Ararat Shrine to become Imperial Potentate (1924-25) was James E. Chandler. The late Frank S. Land, who founded the Order of DeMolay, was the third past Potentate of Ararat Shrine to assume the title of Imperial Potentate (1954-55). W.W. (Woody) Bennett was the fourth past Potentate to hold the position of Imperial Potentate (1975-76). Dedicated to even further service to the Shrine, Woody was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the corporation that supervises and operates the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
George M. Saunders, who served as Recorder of Ararat Shrine from 1935 to 1948 was elected to the position of Imperial Recorder in 1948 and served in that position until his retirement in 1980.
The first meetings of Ararat Shrine were held in the offices of Mr. Ethelbert F. Allen.
Various meeting places have been used since that time. One was the Elks Hall at Seventh and Main in Kansas City. In 1890, the meetings were moved to the Armory at 15th and Grand. From there we moved to Strope's Hall at 15th and Central. The name Strope's Hall was changed to "Shrine Hall" and we met there for almost eleven years. In 1901 the Temple was moved to a new building which later became the Kansas City Power and Light Company home. That same year Ararat Shrine was the host for the Imperial Shrine Council Session and the meetings were held in the Standard Theatre, later known as the Missouri Theatre and now known as the Folly Theatre. In December 1911, Ararat Temple moved into a building of its own at 12th and Prospect. In November of 1925, a new building was erected on the northeast corner of 11th and Central and was occupied until 1940. This building was formerly occupied by KMBC-TV9 and currently, the Lyric Theatre calls it home. Next, the entire fourth floor of the Hotel Continental in downtown Kansas City was leased as a Temple, and these facilities were used until 1945 when we purchased the old American Hereford Building at the northwest corner of 11th and Central. In 1971, Ararat purchased 11.6 acres of land at I-435 and Eastwood Trafficway and began construction on the new building, and occupied our present facility in January 1975. The addition of Bennett Auditorium was completed in 1979.
Shriners International requires that all Shrine Temples adopt names of an Arabic nature. There is no official record of why the founders of Ararat chose this particular name. Mount Ararat, where tradition and the Bible say Noah's Ark landed.