William Harper Bennett founded the Order of Alhambra on February 29, 1904, in Brooklyn, New York as a Catholic fraternal and social association. It was named after the Alhambra, a Moorish palace in Granada, Spain; where the Moors surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, after occupying Spain for almost 800 years. Within sight of the Alhambra’s red towers the saintly Columbus received the first favorable reply to his lifelong prayers for assistance to embark on his voyage of discovery. The Order, in addition to adopting the name of the Moorish palace, uses the colorful Oriental costuming and settings. The emblem of the Order is the red tower of Castile surmounting the crescent of the Saracen typifying the triumph of Christianity over the Moors.
The Fez worn by members of the Order has this emblem as its prominent centerpiece. The Order has been honored by Pope John Paul II accepting a Fez.
Service and Support to institutions and individuals characterize the fundamental purpose of the Order’s existence. These take various forms. Many are conducted in the local areas where caravans exist. Others are in the form of Programs or Projects administered at the headquarters level from caravan donations and interest earned on the Order of Alhambra Charity Fund, Inc. Examples of service and support at the local level are: Donations to private schools educating developmentally disabled children and providing them with vocational skills; participating in Special Olympics; conducting recreation, field day programs and summer camps; providing field trips, boat rides, zoo trips, circus trips, picnics, Christmas parties, dinner dances, etc. The Alhambra provides assistance, education and residences for persons developmentally disabled by mental retardation, now referred to as intellectually disabled. It identifies, marks, preserves, and commemorates Catholic historical places, events and persons of international or regional importance. The members of the Order focus on sociability and fund raising to advance its goals and objectives. The wives and female friends of the members often referred to as Sultanas are an integral part of these functions. The sociability aspect provides camaraderie and lasting friendships. Fund raising provides the means to conduct the charitable programs and projects of the Order. In addition to the charitable work done at the Caravan level, the Order sponsors various PROGRAMS and PROJECTS from its headquarters level under the auspices of the Council of Viziers.
Sociability is a dominant characteristic of the Order. It flows from another stated purpose of the Order, namely, “To promote social, fraternal and intellectual associations and through its Caravans provide a practical means to form enduring fellowship and friendship among its members.” The Alhambra is a “fun” organization dedicated to doing worthwhile charitable work.
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