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The Shriners, or Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.), were established in the U.S. in 1870 as an appendant body to Freemasonry. In order to be eligible for membership in the Shrine, a person must be a Master Mason in the Freemasonry Fraternity. Dr. Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and actor William J. Florence were the first to discuss the idea of a new fraternity for the Masons at the Knickerbocker Cottage in New York in 1870. The two men took the idea seriously enough to do something about it - converting it into what would become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.), adopting a Middle Eastern theme and organizing Temples meetings. The first Temple, established on September 26, 1872, was Mecca Temple (now known as Mecca Shriners) with Fleming serving as the first Potentate. With only 43 Shriners in the organization in 1875, the group decided they needed to do something to boost membership. At a meeting of Mecca Shriners on June 6, 1876, a new body was created to help spur the growth of the fraternity: "The Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for the United States of America", and an extensive publicity and recruiting campaign was initiated. It worked, because just two years later, in 1878, there were 425 Shriners in 13 temples. The number of Shriners continued to grow in the 1880s; by 1888 there were 7,210 members in 48 temples throughout the U.S. and one in Canada; in 1898, there were 50,000 Shriners, with 71 of the 79 temples actively engaged in some type of philanthropic work; by 1900, there were well over 55,000 members and 82 temples; and between 1900 and 1918, eight new temples were created in Canada, and one each in Honolulu, Mexico City, and the Republic of Panama. Through the years, these numbers have increased dramatically. Members have included four U.S. Presidents, four Mexican Presidents, One Prime Minister of Canada, and one Hawaiian King. Today, there are more than 411,000 Shriners who belong to 191 Temples or Chapters. Additionally, there are 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children providing care for orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. These hospitals have helped more than 835,000 children - at no cost to parent or child - since the first Shriners Hospitals for Children opened in 1922. Exterior corner view of the Shrine Auditorium from Jefferson Boulevard.