Oriental Shriners was founded in February 7, 1877, in Troy, NY, and was granted a charter as Oriental Shrine Center of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine on February 27, 1877. The first nine members or Nobles, were proposed, accepted for membership and each paid dues of $1. In April 25, 1887, 215 Nobles of Mecca Shrine Center (the first or Shrine Center #1) came to Troy, NY, to create 63 Nobles for Oriental, 3 for Mecca Shrine Center and 1 for Cyprus Shrine Center (located in nearby Albany, NY). The Nobles were obligated by Illustrious Walter M. Fleming, Grand Potentate and one of the founding fathers of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Over 350 people were in attendance at this event.
The jurisdiction of Oriental Is the Northeastern counties of New York State, generally from our Shrine Center building in the City of Troy, up to the Canadian border above Plattsburgh, NY. Jurisdiction of Schenectady county is shared with Cyprus Shrine Center, and are bordered by Ziyara Shrine Center of Utica in the West, Media Shrine Center in Watertown to the Northwest, Karnak Shrine Center in Montreal to the North and Cairo Shrine Center to the East in Rutland, Vermont. Together with the other Shrine Centers located in New York State and Rameses Shrine Center in Toronto, Ontario, Oriental helped form the New York-Ontario Shrine Association.
Throughout the early twenthiest century Oriental Shrine Center AAONMS continued to grow reaching a memberhips of 2,793 members. At the Imperial Session of 1923 in Washington, DC, the Oriental Band was recognized as the best band in a competition of 170 bands judged by Band Master John Philip Sosa. When the fraternity began building hospitals, Oriental was noted to have made a sizeable appearance at the opening of the Springfield Hospital with its Oriental Band, Oriental Patrol units and additional large number of Nobles at its dedication on February 21, 1925. Since that time Oriental has supported the establishment of the Montreal Hospital and participated in the 1968 founding of the Boston Hospital. From those days to the present Oriental supported patients attending the hospitals and to this day has three vans available for patient transpartation to the Boston, Montreal and Springfield Hospitals.
In 1989, Oriental Shrine Center Potentate Lewis O. Slocum attended the laying of the cornerstone for the new hospital facility in Springfield and numerous Nobles and their Ladies accompanied Potentate Richard A. Rabe at the dedication of the facility in 1991.
In 1992, Potentate Richard Pelham was on hand for the breaking of ground for the new hospital in Boston, followed by attendance of Potentate Charles Fake at the dedication in 1995. Throughout this period Oriental Shrine Center continued to place units in area parades and have an annual circus to fund its operations and provide contributions to the three hospitals to which it provides patient transportation.
In 2002, when the it was voted at the Imperial Session to replace the word Shrine Center with the word Shriners, Oriental Shrine Center AAONMS changed its bylaws to become Oriental Shriners. Having always previously rented space, in the year 2003, under the leadership of Potentate L. John Garhartt, Oriental accepted the offer from a Masonic Hall Association to rent their building in Troy with an option to buy for two years. The year 2004 was a landmark year for Oriental Shriners, as the election of Potentate Stephen R. Flatt became the first son of a previous Potentate of Oriental, his father Potentate James D. Flatt holding the office in 1999. The vote of the membership to exercise the purchase option on the Shrine Center building, which is the present location of Oriental Shriners, was accomplished in 2005, under the leadership of Potentate Richard Lebowich.
In 2018, in order to recognize and formalize the previous often close relations with Karnak Shriners in Montreal and Cairo Shriners in Rutland, VT, Oriental Shriners was admitted to membership in the Northeast Shrine Association while maintaining its long time membership in New York Ontario Shrine Association. While current membership is one tenth of its all time high number, Oriental Shriners continues to provide hospital transportation, presents a Shrine Circus at multiple locations throughout its jurisdiction each year and participates in many civic parades in order to promote the fraternity and its hospitals.
Clubs and Units:
- Glen Falls Shrine Club
- Keystone Kops Unit
- Norco Clowns
- Norco Shrine Club
- Uncle Sam Clowns