The Great Parade of the Nobles of Murat

In its first years, Murat depended on other Masonic groups to help provide space for Shrine activities. The early years they met at the Scottish Rite at the Pork House in the 100 block of S. Pennsylvania. Just before three in the morning of November 3, 1894, a fire started in the offices of the Indiana Medical College on the northeast corner of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Patrolman Cleary saw and reported the fire. Soon the flames broke through the walls into the Scottish Rite and by five that morning, all that was left was the front wall. Now the beautiful costumes and props were all lost in the blaze and Murat activities, including the ceremonial, were canceled. Very little was found in the ruins except a scimitar. It was later given to the insurance agent for the building.

After the fire, Murat met once at Raper Commandery #1, and then moved to the Adoniram Lodge of Perfection downtown on West Maryland Street. A ceremonial was held in 1895 at Tomlinson Hall on the corner of Delaware Street and Market. The Valley of Indianapolis of the Scottish Rite worked hard to rebuild its building and opened the new cathedral at 29 S. Pennsylvania for a Murat ceremonial on December 6, 1896. The Shrine Railroad Club will tell you a ball signal hung above the tracks, a high ball, which meant "go ahead." That December class was the go ahead class for Murat—174 nobles crossed the Hot Sands. That giant class was dubbed the "High Ball Class." Murat continued to meet on the fifth floor at the Old Scottish Rite Cathedral for the next 13 years.

The New York Giants baseball team was now occupying much of Potentate Brush's time. Over the objections of the nobles, Brush stepped down as Potentate in 1897. Chalmers Brown would take over as Illustrious Potentate and the nobility flourished. But the need for Murat to have a building of its own became more and more apparent as the 20th century dawned and Murat's membership climbed to more than 2,000 nobles.

In 1906, the world was rapidly changing. The Wright Brothers were granted a patent for a flying machine as President Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting president to travel outside the United States, and the first legal forward pass was thrown in American football. In Indianapolis, a well respected attorney who had represented primarily railroads and was very active in Masonic orders appeared on the Murat scene. Elias J. Jacoby cut an impressive figure with bright eyes and a bushy but well trimmed moustache. Jacoby became the fifth Potentate of Murat in 1907 and set to work to provide the Indianapolis Shrine with a much needed home of its own. But first on his agenda was to find Murat's charter. After an extensive search, it was assumed the founding document was lost in the Pork House fire and a duplicate was arranged.

In 1908, in the first of a series of purchases, the land on the northwest corner of Michigan and New Jersey Streets was acquired for $37,000. Noble Oscar D. Bohlen was directed to design a temple in the form of a mosque.

By March 13, 1909, the project was ready for construction. Three blocks west at North and Illinois Streets, the Grand Lodge of Indiana was under construction and out on the far west side, a two and a half mile race course was being finished with a surface of crushed stone and tar, due for opening in August. This day just may have been the biggest in Murat history as the nobles celebrated their 25th anniversary and laid the cornerstone for their new temple. Shriners from other cities poured into the city and headed for the German House, now the Athenaeum, to kick off the party. Murat's old friends from Syrian Temple were there including now Past Imperial Sir Melish who as Potentate at Syrian helped get Murat started. The Grand Lodge of Indiana opened and the Murat nobles, along with the Arab Band and Patrol, escorted the Most Worshipful Grand Master Walter O. Bragg and Grand Lodge officers to the Murat site.

At noon a copper box was carefully prepared to be sealed in the cornerstone. Inside were photographs of the officers and members and the newspapers of the day. Letters from most of the other temples in Shrinedom were placed in the box along with photographs of views of the city. The box was sealed and brought to the corner. It still remains inside the cornerstone. No date was given to open the time capsule.

Waiting for the ceremony to begin were representatives of Antioch Temple in Dayton, Medinah of Chicago, Kosair from Louisville, and the Imperial Potentate Edwin I. Alderman. The band from Syrian Temple played and the cornerstone was laid in the same form Masons had used to lay the cornerstone for the National Capitol and many other historic buildings—using corn, wine, and oil and a silver plated trowel. The trowel hangs at Murat. That night, back at the German House, the celebration continued. The headline speaker was Noble Charles W. Fairbanks, former vice president of the United States.

The building was finished in just under a year at a cost of $200,000. The theater opened on February 28, 1910, with the Schubert Organization of New York leasing the property and, as became the tradition, the Murat nobles and ladies were treated to opening night. The main entrance and marquee was on New Jersey Street a few feet north of Michigan. The theater seated 1,950. Broadway came to Indy with the Ziegfeld Follies and many wonderful shows. The performers all loved the style and, more importantly, the acoustics at Murat. The theater was formally dedicated May 16, 1910, followed by a ceremonial with 190 candidates.

By September, the ballroom in the basement was ready and the nobles and their ladies joined the fun. It was the largest such room in the city. It was a great time to be a Shriner.

John Brush, the founding Potentate and the only person to single-handedly stop a World Series, passed to the Unseen Temple. His widow was clearing out her husband's things when she came upon a parchment roll. The lost charter of Murat had been found! Our first Potentate had carefully preserved this key document. Now the temple had two charters but Mrs. Brush was committed to seeing the original that her husband worked so hard to make a reality be properly displayed. She took it to Noble Alfred B. Lyon. Lyon restored the document and encased it in an elaborate frame, and it still hangs in the temple 125 years later.

By 1913, his work on the temple complete, Elias Jacoby passed the office of Potentate to Denton F. Billingsley. That same year the federal income tax was approved. And the world was getting the first hints of a European war with action in the Balkans. By August of the following year, Germany declared war on France and WWI begins. Murat nobles worked hard to sell Liberty Bonds. By 1917, the U.S. declared war on Germany and joined in the Great War. Imperial Shrine Sessions were subdued in keeping with the national attention to the war.

The war to end all wars saw many Shriners put down their working tools to pick up a rifle. Noble Eddie Rickenbacker left town to be a driver for Noble and General Black Jack Pershing. Brother Mark Wayne Clark began his path toward four stars and a place in history. Noble Omar Bradley was commanding the Infantry School at Fort Benning, and Noble Douglas MacArthur was helping form the Rainbow Division. The war all but stopped the activities of the Shrine with subdued Imperial Sessions. While proper to do so, it saddened Elias Jacoby who had been moving up the Imperial line and was due to be Imperial Sir in 1919.

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J. Worth Baker

Illustrious Sir J. Worth Baker was the second member of Murat to become Shrinedom's imperial leader. In 1957, he became the 46th Potentate of Murat Shrine. He was elected Imperial Potentate in 1969. In attaining this position, he became the first Hoosier to become Imperial Potentate as his predecessor, Elias Jacoby, was an Ohio native.

J. Worth Baker was born in 1908 at Cicero, IN. He attended Cicero High School and Butler University. He subsequently worked in Columbus, OH, and New York City before returning to Indianapolis in 1933 where he remained the rest of his life. He was president of Bakerentals, Inc. and Utility Building Corp.

Noble Baker became one of the founders of the 500 Festival Parade when he called both Shriners and civic leaders together to form the committee that organized and ran the event that is now a Memorial Day weekend tradition.

J. Worth Baker began his Masonic career when he was raised in Hinkle Lodge No. 310 in Deming, IN. He later served his Lodge as its Worshipful Master. He joined Murat Shrine in 1940 and immediately became involved with the Caravan Club and Chanters, subsequently serving as president for both groups.

Noble Baker was both a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason. He was a past president of the Indiana Shrine Association, and a member of Kowad 'Al Sabikin, El' Ameen Nabeel, Sahara Grotto, Royal Order of Scotland, and DeMolay Legion of Honor as well as a board member at the Shriners Burn Hospital in Cincinnati and the Shriners Orthopaedic Hospital in Chicago.
He and his wife Marion attended Fairview Presbyterian Church. He belonged to several civic organizations such as Indianapolis Social Workers Club, Indianapolis Athletic Club, and Indiana Society of Chicago.

Imperial Sir Baker was a selfless and enthusiastic supporter for all the varied bodies in Freemasonry.