The historic Scottish Rite Auditorium: Entertainment hot spot for the tri-state area.
The Scottish Rite is one of the largest auditoriums in South Jersey. It was voted one of the “150 Best Buildings and Places” by the American Institute of Architects in the 2011 AIA New Jersey Guidebook. Resting on eight acres of land, the Scottish Rite property is comprised of two separate buildings. The largest building is a five-story structure that houses the Collingswood Grand Ballroom on the lower floors and the 1,050 seat Scottish Rite Auditorium on the upper levels. Both facilities are managed by the Collingswood Foundation for the Arts, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit.
The Scottish Rite Auditorium presents over twenty concerts per year by notable musicians and bands; such as, America, Gordon Lightfoot and Kansas to name a few. In fact, David Crosby has stated “this is the coolest place I ever played!”
The Auditorium is also home to the Collingswood Community Theatre, which stages 4 to 5 productions per year ranging from large musicals to small dramas and comedies. Cast members range in age from 8 to 80.
The Collingswood Grand Ballroom was voted the “Best Place to Have a Wedding” by SJ Magazine. It is recognized as one of the top venues in the area for corporate events. The Ballroom features an opulent grand staircase, large dance floor, digital surround-sound system, video screen and wireless internet.
The Excelsior Scottish Rite Temple, also known as the Samuel French House, White Manson, Dungarven and Hurley Mansion, has an interesting history. Earlier inhabitants of the Mansion include Samuel French (of Smith Kline and French Co.) and Edward Collings Knight, Sr., inventor of the Pullman sleeping car for railroads. Mr. Knight was a descendant of the Collings family for whom the borough and Knight Park is named. Dr. William Albert Davis, of Cooper Hospital in Camden and a 32 Degree Mason, operated a maternity hospital in the White Mansion. In 1909 William Hurley, owner of a successful chain of eight furniture stores purchased the estate and named it in honor of his birthplace, Dungarven, in County Waterford, Ireland.
The property was purchased by the Excelsior Scottish Rite in 1930 for $125,000 from the estate of William Hurley. In 2003, the Borough of Collingswood entered a long term 50 year lease of the building owned by the Scottish Rite Freemasons. The Borough appointed the management of the venue to the Collingswood Foundation for the Arts, a registered 501 (c) 3. Since 2003, we have made many repairs, renovations and improvements to the auditorium and ballroom. During the past 12 years, over a million guests have visited this classic venue.
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