Future of the Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg unknown

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg could be yours for the taking, for anyone who has an extra million dollars to spend.

The Zembo Shrine has stood the test of time for nearly 90 years, but now it's up for sale.

The organization, which dedicates itself to helping others, now needs some help of its own.

The Shriner's circus is in town, but it could be the final act for the Zembo Shrine.

Zembo Shrine 2017 Potentate Bob Cook said "our membership is declining. Our money, income is declining. We're trying to have special events to make up for that deficit, and we're doing the best we can."

It's why the building is now up for sale. The circus is the Zembo Shrine's main fundraiser to keep its doors open.

Zembo Shrine Circus Chairman Terry Fabian said "we brought it here and made it a one-ring circus. It's been very popular, because there's not a bad seat in the house. If we don't have the building, that option goes away, so the future is unknown."

"I would be sad as everybody else would be sad, but we also have to face reality, and we just can't maintain it without the funds coming in," Cook said.

With an average age of 72 years old, membership at the shrine has dropped from a high of about 12,000 Shriners in the 1940s and 1950s, to its current low of about 2,100 people.

"Times change, people change, society change, the industry's changed. It's just a whole new ballgame compared to 30s, and 40s," Cook said.

"With the decline in membership, we need to have fundraisers through the year to be able to pay the bills. When we have the doors open, that's when we can pay attention to our philanthropy, which is Shriners Hospital for Children," Fabian said.

Built in 1929, the Zembo Shrine is a shining example of Arabic architecture, but the building is more than just stone and tile.

"Brothers helping brothers is what it is. We try to help each other to encourage us to grow as men, and also our wives are with us too," Cook said.

"We still have the membership. We have the need, the orthopedics needs of kids in this area, and we'll continue to do that as long as there is a Shriner left standing, we will transport kids to the hospital," Fabian said.

In the meantime, Shriners hope to sell enough tickets to fill these seats to keep the Zembo Shrine going, or find a buyer.

The 70th annual Zembo Shrine Circus runs from Wednesday, March 22nd through Sunday, March 26th.

Sale of the Zembo Shrine is being handled by Bill Gladstone of NAI CIR.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.