In April of 1909 a group of Nobles of Murat Shrine Center of Indianapolis, headed by Doctor Harry E. Sharrer, 36 years old, felt that the northwest portion of Indiana could actively support a Shrine Shrine Center of its own in Hammond. On April 27, 1909 the dispensation was granted, and on May 18, 1909, Illustrious Noble E. J. Jacoby, Potentate of Murat Shrine Center, representing the Imperial Potentate, delivered the Dispensation and installed the officers. Our first ceremonial was held on October 2, 1909, at which forty-one candidates were initiated, Murat conferring the degree and assisting in a Parade and drill.
On April 8, 1910, only nine months old, ORAK ran a special train, known as the "ORAK SPECIAL" to the Imperial Council session held in New Orleans, April 12th and 13th, at which session we were granted a charter for our Shrine Center. The charter was delivered to us on June 11th by Imperial Inner Guard, E.J. Jacoby.
On September 10, 1910, ORAK Shrine Center hired, and practically ran, Gentry Brothers' Circus, clearing the sum of $712.45. On the 29th of September, the next Ceremonial session was held. This was the first exhibition drill of our newly organized Patrol. On October 5th and 6th, our Patrol, under the command of Captain Mallet, appeared in Fort Wayne a Shrine Mardi Gras held under the auspices of Mizpah Shrine Center, and drilled in competition with many older patrols, making a splendid showing, and securing a beautiful loving cup.
Illustrious Sir Harry E. Sharrer, our first Potentate, served ORAK in that capacity a total of six years, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913 & 1922. Our first home was in the Hammond Masonic Shrine Center, located at 45 Muenich Court. Such were our beginnings!
The Masonic Shrine Center, extensively modified and reconstructed to include a beautiful Shrine auditorium, a ballroom, dining, meeting rooms, and parlors, became our home until 1980, when it was decided to relocate to a site more central to our jurisdiction, and accessible to our membership. The Masonic Building Corporation purchased our interests in the building and we moved to a temporary location at 7940 Nevada Street in Hammond. In 1981 the membership voted to move the Charter to Michigan City, to a 35 acre site that had been purchased in 1979. In 1981 at the Imperial Council Session in New Orleans, permission to do so was granted. On October 18, 1981, a Ground Breaking Ceremony was held at the building site of our new Shrine Center. On June 3, 1984, Corner Stone Ceremonies were held at the new Shrine Center. The office was moved from Nevada Street in Hammond and the first Stated meeting in the new Shrine Center was held in December 1984.
The units of ORAK Shrine Center are many and varied, and their activities and support can not be truly measured. As mentioned before, the Arab Patrol was first, having been organized and presenting it's first drill in 1910. The Drum and Bugle Corps next, formed in 1915, followed by the Chanters in 1924, the Color G1.1ard in 1925, the Oriental Band in 1928, and a Saxophone Sextet in 1935. The Saxophone Sextet remained on the units list for a couple of years, and several years ago the Chanters ceased to be heard, and recently the Color Guard and the Drum and Bugle Corps both disbanded. The Brass Band and the Tuxedo Patrol, both South Bend Shrine Club units, have been listed as ORAK units since 1963 and 1964, respectively, the Raheese were first listed in 1964, the Ritual Cast in 1965, and the Clowns in 1966, the Motor Patrol in 1969, the Pipe band in 1977, and the Flying Shriners in 1983. These, and the many and varied Shrine Clubs and committees assist ORAK Shrine Center in it's principal interest, the Shrine Hospitals for Children.
Orak Shrine is proud to have had several Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Indiana as members, including Clarence A. Tapper (P.P.), Ishmael D. Ison, William B. Blasingame (P.P.), Richard W. Wierzba, James M. Barkdull, Charles F. Marlowe, Daniel J. Baranie, as well as Richard J. Elman (P.P.), who is currently the Grand Secretary for the Grand Lodge of Indiana, and Daniel L. Martin (P.P.) who is the Grand Master for 2021-2022. We are very proud of these Nobles for their contributions to Freemasonry.
Orak Shrine has had the pleasure of having the late Robert B. Bailey (P.P.), who served as the Imperial Potentate in 1994-1995, and his son William S. Bailey who pending election will serve as the Imperial Potentate for 2021-2022. We are very proud of their service to Shriners International at the Imperial Level.
Clubs and Units:
- Motor Patrol
- Arab Patrol
- Pipes and Drums
- Ritual Cast
- Shrine Center Guard
- Oriental Band
- Legion of Honor
- Sportsmans Club
- Hobart Shrine Club
- South Lake County Shrine Club