In 1872, an internationally prominent actor and a physician, who was also a highly skilled juggler and magician decided to design a "playground" for Masonry. This organization, as yet unnamed, became the Mystic Shrine of North America.

That famous actor, Billy Florence, and the respected physician, Dr. Walter M. Flemming, a 33 degree Scottish Rite Mason, were brought together by their mutual quest for an organization of eligible Masons which would be interesting, impressive, and where good fellowship would be the watchword. Dr. Flemming delegated the creation of the Shrine ritual to Billy Florence because of his theatrical talents, both technical and promotional. Borrowing from experience obtained while in Europe, as well as many mystical and legendary traditions from several Arabic countries, Noble-to-be Florence created the Shrine ritual, much as we see it today. After several years of preparation, a meeting was held in the Masonic Hall in New York for the purpose of organizing the first Shrine Temple in the United States.

Dr. Flemming proposed that "Mecca" be the name of the Temple. From that beginning over 120 years ago, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine has grown to be one of the greatest fraternal and charitable organizations in history.


Sabbar is one of the 191 temples within the jurisdiction of the Imperial Shrine of North America, whose headquarters is in Tampa, Florida.

 Sabbar is over 40 years. The dispensation committee members were business and civic leaders of Tucson. Harry Stith was elected to be the first Potentate. The name of Sabbar was chosen because it is Arabic for "Cactus". Sabbar is the second Arizona temple and 160th of the Shrine. Tremendous support was received from El Zaribah Temple of Phoenix in the establishment of Sabbar. The charter was received at the 1965 Imperial Council session.

Sabbar met in a purchased building until its own building could be financed and constructed. A site was purchased on South Tucson Boulevard in 1967. The cornerstone was laid on March 17, 1967, with  dedication on February 17, 1969.

It is, today, not only serviceable for our needs, but is regarded as a premier location for business meetings, wedding receptions, and parties of 40 to 400.

One of the best ways for a new Noble to become involved in the Shrine is through membership in a club or unit, or better still, both. The oldest unit in Sabbar is the Drum and Bugle Corps. The oldest club is Cochise County  Shrine Club, which was chartered in 1965. The expansion of Sabbar into other areas outside Pima County really took off after 1970. Today, Sabbar-land stretches from Pinal County in the north to Santa Cruz County in the south, east through Graham and Greenlee Counties, and southeast to Cochise County. There is a Shrine Club in each area, and a unit in most.

Our own R. L. "Tony" Bukey was elected Imperial Potentate and served in 1993-94.

Come down to Sabbar and let us show you our Temple!


The Shrine is not a religion, nor is it associated with any religion. The word "Temple" was chosen in the early days to have the same meaning as "lodge" has to Masons or "chapter" to DeMolay, Eastern Star, or a part of the York Rite. Temple is the membership. It has no other special meaning. You will see it used less frequently outside of the organization and inside it as well, lest we be confused with other meanings of the word.