Shrine History

Shriners are known for their colorful parades, circuses and clowns. But there is also a serious side to this international fraternity of more than  500,000 men belonging to  Shrine Centers, or chapters, around the world.  For almost 100 years, the Shriners have operated a network of specialized hospitals (free of charge) that treat children with orthopaedic problems, burns, and spinal cord injuries, until they are 18 years old.

The Shrine (now Shriners International) was founded in 1872 by a group of 13 men belonging to the Masonic Order. It was originally established to provide fun and fellowship for its members. But as the organization grew, its members decided to dedicate their efforts to helping others by establishing an official Shrine philanthropy — a network of specialized hospitals that have provided expert medical care to more than 1.3 million children at no charge to families or patients.

The Founders of the Shrine

Walter Fleming
William Florence

Since the first Shriners Hospital opened in 1922, the Shrine has supported what has become known as the “World’s Greatest Philanthropy.” The Shrine and its 22 hospitals, while maintaining separate legal and financial identities, are linked through Shriners International’s continuing support of Shriners Hospitals.

The best known symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that Shriners wear at official functions. Because Shriners are men who enjoy life, fun is a large part of the Shrine and the activities that help support the Shrine’s philanthropy. Most Shrine Centers sponsor Shrine Clubs and special units, such as the motor corps, band or clown units, and many other units of interest. They share in the camaraderie, deep friendships and good fellowship that are all part of being a Shriner.

For more information about go to Shriners International Headquarters website.

Scroll to Top