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Cornerstone of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial

Ground was broken for the Masonic Temple in 1922, the cornerstone was laid in 1923, and the memorial was completed nine years later, in 1932. It is the only Masonic building supported and maintained by the 52 grand lodges of the United States of America.

Watres had hoped for the cornerstone to be laid on November 4th, 1923, which would have been the 170th anniversary of Washington’s initiation into Freemasonry. Unfortunately the 4th of November fell on a Sunday and for this or some other reason, the ceremony of laying the cornerstone was scheduled for three days earlier on November 1st.

According to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial’s web site, there was a bit of last minute scrambling when it was discovered that the cornerstone was too small. Quick carving was soon begun in order to get a new stone ready in time for the ceremonies.

Masonic Cornerstone ceremonies were once a staple of the craft that attracted large numbers of dignitaries and onlookers. The laying of the cornerstone on that November day was no exception. On hand for the ceremony were then-President Calvin Coolidge, former President and Freemason Howard Taft (who was Chief Justice at that time), the Governor of Virginia and many Grand Masters from across the United States.

Using the same trowel that Washington used to lay the foundation stone of the Nation’s Capitol, President Coolidge, who was not a Freemason, spread the first cement.

He was followed by Chief Justice Howard Taft, the 27th president of the U.S. and the only person in American History to have held both offices. Taft was a Mason, having been made a Mason at sight in 1909 while he was President-elect. Following Taft in spreading the cement for the cornerstone was “Acting” Grand Master of Virginia, Charles H. Callahan, who, along with Watres, had turned the first shovels of sod a year previous. Following Callahan, each Grand Master present took his turn with the most famous trowel in U.S. or Masonic history by spreading cement to make ready for the recently created cornerstone.

From the laying of the cornerstone in Masonic style that November’s day in 1922, it would take another decade before the building was completed and ready to be dedicated.

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George Washington Laying the Cornerstone

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Posted by DC Gift Shop (guest) on Thu 11 Mar 2010 08:20:57 PM UTC

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