Flying Their Colors

A new exhibition remembers when the Knights Templar came to town

By Ian A. Stewart

When the knights came marching in, you couldn’t miss them. That was certainly the case in 1883 and 1904, when the Knights Templar held their massive, triennial national conclaves in San Francisco—complete with enormous parades, banquets, military drill demonstrations, and equestrian competitions. In this new exhibition, titled “Conclave City: Knights Templar Triennials of San Francisco,” which debuted at the California Masonic Memorial Temple, the Henry Wilson Coil Museum and Library of Freemasonry looks back on these spectacular displays of Masonic regalia and pride.

Thousands of “sir knights” descended on San Francisco for the 29th Knights Templar Trienniel Conclave in 1904, turning Market Street into a virtual color guard. 

A circa-1902 saber and scabbard, part of the traditional Knights Templar uniform.

A Knights Templar uniform featured a black wool coat and pants, red leather sword belt, buckle, and triangular apron with metal skull-and-crossed-bones insignia. The baldric consisted of a fabric sash worn across the shoulder and adorned with medals.

Below left: A 1904 medal from Mount Calvary Commandary No. 1 of Ohama, Nebraska. 

Below right: An 1883 medal featuring the California Golden Bear above the Cross of Malta. 

A commemorative porcelain plate issued by Pittsburgh Commandery No. 1 featuring a scene with medieval knights, monks, and a young woman. 

The California Commandery No. 1 Drill Corps poses during the 29th Knights Templar Triennial Conclave in San Francisco of 1904. 

Chen Design Associates

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