The History of Zuhrah

Zuhrah (which means “flower” in Arabic) was the 23rd Zuhrah Shriners to receive a charter.  In 1885, there were only 18 Shrine Centers.  Most of these centers were in the Northeastern United States.  The only western centers were in Chicago, Davenport, and San Francisco.

In 1886, charters were granted to nine new centers, in the cities of Providence, Louisville, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., Cedar Rapids, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Minneapolis.  At the Imperial Session in Denver in 2011, the Nobility voted to add 1 more Shrine Center, and make Shriners a truly International Organization.  Shriners International now boasts 194 Shrine centers, located in the United Stated of America, Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, Puerto Rico, Germany, and the Philippines.

The early records of Zuhrah were earlier thought to be lost or destroyed but when our offices were moved in 2011, we found the original handwritten meeting minutes from our early years.  We know that the first meeting was held in the Masonic Hall on 118 Hennepin Avenue.  Seven Brothers attended that first meeting.  When the charter was formally presented a year later, there were 24 Brother’s names listed.  We can only account for 23 of them.  John A. Schiener, who owned and operated a book and stationary store in downtown Minneapolis, was the leader of this group.  He was elected as our first Potentate, and served in that capacity for five years from 1885 to 1890.  He was very active in all Masonic bodies, and was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.

Zuhrah moved from the old Masonic Hall on 118 Hennepin Avenue to the West Hotel and then into the Masonic Temple building on 6th and Hennepin.  In 1929, the facilities at 2540 Park Avenue were purchased.  The beautiful, ornate mansion was owned by the Van Dunes – Harrington lumber family, and was purchased from them for $25,000.  The 2010 property taxes were more than 3 times that amount.  In 2011, Zuhrah Shriners sold the Park Avenue facility and temporarily moved its storage and administrative functions to Fridley.  Meanwhile, while Zuhrah looks for a permanent home; our official address is 5400 NE Main Street, suite 100, Minneapolis, MN.

The first uniformed marching unit in all of Shrinedom was the Zuhrah Patrol.  We can be most proud that all the color and pageantry of the Shrine was started by a unit of our center.

Three of our members have become Imperial Potentates.  In 1907, Charles E. Ovenshire, head of the nationally known Minneapolis knitting mills, became Zuhrah center’s 15th potentate.  He served as Imperial Potentate in 1917.  Zuhrah’s second Imperial Potentate was A.A.D. Rahn.  He served as Zuhrah’s Potentate in 1922 and 1923.  During Potentate Rahn’s tenure as Potentate, the Twin Cities Shrine Hospital was completed and the first patient was admitted.  The Women’s Auxiliary was also organized during his term of office.  Potentate Rahn served as Imperial Potentate in 1938.  Zuhrah’s third Imperial Potentate was Warren F. Weck, Jr.  He served as Zuhrah’s Potentate in 1967 and as Imperial Potentate in 1978.

Our current Potentate, Ross Hjermstad, is our 121st Potentate.

by E. T. (Tom) Fjelde