Building the Frank B. Hower Scottish Rite Cathedral
In 1919 a Cathedral General Committee was organized consisting of the Consistory Trustees, heads of the four Bodies of Scottish Rite and the Inspectors General of the 33rd⁰. The holdings and authority of the Masonic Temple Association were transferred to the committee and the association which had brought the work thus far was dissolved.
Intense activity followed this revival of the project which had so long been considered only as a possibility for the future. Additional funds were subscribed by the members and on December 6, 1919 the cornerstone of the new Cathedral was laid by the M. W. William S. Farmer, Grand Master of Masons in New York State, in a solemn ceremony and before a great assemblage of Masons and friends. The cornerstone is as it should be, near the northeast corner of the building – not far from the kitchen entrance.
The cornerstone was carved by Ill. Jesse L. Churchill, 33⁰. A collection of historical documents and things of that generation was deposited in the receptacle within the stone for the edification of future generations should they ever again come to light.
The Consecration and Dedication of the Cathedral was held April 20, 1921 and conducted by Barton Smith, Sovereign Grand Commander. The itinerary of the day included a reception of active Supreme Council members and distinguished guests, a presentation of the Twenty-First Degree in full ceremonial form, the dedication and a banquet. (Frank B. Hower had presented to Corning the 21st⁰ costumes and scenery to go with it.)
The Cathedral had cost a total of $32,500. It contained a 600-seat auditorium, a large stage area, 35 full scenery canvas curtains, costume and dressing rooms, a banquet hall, kitchen, lounge, office, poolroom and plenty of storage areas. Final settlement of the last note held against the building was made in 1938.
Masonic and public use flourished over the years. Reunions, Passion plays, two Blue Lodges called it home. Corning Summer Theater, Boy Scouts, political celebrations, radio shows, concerts, recitals, weddings and private parties were frequent uses.
As membership dwindled it became impossible to support the building. An auction was held Sept 24, 2005. Much of the contents went to the Coudersport Consistory. This historic landmark still remains unoccupied. Efforts to open it as a theater and a café are underway.
The Valley of Corning continues as a Lodge of Perfection and is in a smaller facility.