The Sphinx at Thebes posed a riddle to travelers and killed them when they got it wrong. This sphinx, at 150 N. Madison Avenue, made me stop on the way to an errand today. Wait a minute! Have I not been on this block before? What is this place?
Carved into the facade of the building was the answer: the Scottish Rite Cathedral.
I was still stumped. So when I got home I looked it up on the web. I read the Wikipedia article about the Ancient and Accepted Scottish rite, and though it was in English I didn't understand it. All I got out of it was that it's a branch of Freemasonry. I was still stumped. I found the website for the Pasadena Branch, which was more enlightening. They've been in existence since 1895, and are now housed in this beautifully restored 1925 structure. They do the things that Freemasons do, but they do them in the way of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
Which means I'm still stumped.
This much I know: they have a Childhood Language Center, "committed to providing quality services to young children with speech and language disorders." And it's free.
So I haven't figured out the answer to the riddle of this sphinx. But whatever the Scottish Rite is, I'm thinking it's a good thing.