Recent Listings: Grand Lodge of the Colored Knights of Pythias Temple

Grand Lodge of the Colored Knights of Pythias Temple, Texas
Dallas, Dallas County

Listed February 21, 2017

Designed by noted African American architect William Sidney Pittman, the 1916 Grand Lodge of the Colored Knights of Pythias Temple, Texas, served as a center for civic, business, and social life in Dallas at a time when segregation offered few alternatives. Located in the historic Deep Ellum neighborhood, the building housed the state headquarters and grand lodge for the Colored Knights of Pythias, Texas. The Knights also operated a life insurance business that provided people of limited means the ability to cover funeral expenses for loved ones. The four-story building also provided office space for many prominent African American professionals, including Marcellus Cooper (first African American dentist in Texas), Benjamin R. Bluitt (first African American surgeon in Texas), Ammon S. Wells (attorney and civil rights leader), John O. Chisum (optometrist and civic leader), and Phillip M. Sunday (physician and civic leader). The temple’s auditorium also served as a convention or meeting site for a variety of secular organizations at a time when segregation often prevented African Americans from using municipal or privately-owned facilities. The Knights of Pythias Temple was the first commercial building in Dallas built by and for African Americans. The building served as the state headquarters of a significant African-American fraternal organization, which in many ways supported African-American businesses, including providing office space for a variety of tenants. The building was listed in the National Register under Criterion A in the areas of Social History and Ethnic Heritage/Black, at the local and state levels of significance.

Download the nomination.