The New World Order


George Washington Masonic Memorial 

 



By Bro. Louis A. Watres, P.G.M.
Twelve years ago on the 22nd of February prominent Masons from several of our Grand Jurisdictions gathered at Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss the feasibility of erecting a fitting Memorial to Washington, the Mason. As they met in the historical lodge room of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, the sacred environment and the hallowed memories of him who presided over the lodge while he was Chief Magistrate fired them anew with the spirit of Masonry. Though fully conscious of the fact that the history of Washington, the Mason, is a saered heritage of the Republic, they strongly felt, as all Freemasons truly feel, that Washington's connection with Masonry and the inspiration he gave to the Fraternity are especially dear to the brethren. Remembering the invaluable services rendered by Washington to his country, and that to him and those Masons who were closely associated with him was due the fact that the fundamentals of Freemasonry were made a part of the basic law of our land, they resolved to erect at Alexandria a memorial which should reflect the gratitude of the Masons of the United States to him in whose memory it should stand in the coming years.
To carry out this high purpose, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association was formed. That distinguished Mason, Brother Thomas J. Shryock, of Maryland, was elected President and plans were formulated under which the work was to proceed.
In this connection it is proper to say that ever since its inception one of the most inspiring minds in this great movement has been that of Brother Charles H. Callahan, of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22. He is the author of that splendid volume entitled "Washington, the Man and the Mason." The data assembled by Brother Callahan and his fascinating was of presenting the facts relating to Washington, the Mason, have been and are of great assistance toward the consummation of our movement.
The brethren of Alexandria generously donated for the Memorial a little over two acres of land on Shooter's Hill on the commanding Arlington Ridge, and the Association has since acquired about twenty-nine acres, so that now the site contains approximately thirty-two acres. The National Cemetery at Arling ton is also located on the beautiful Arlington Ridge.
Each year since that first meeting the Association has assembled on the 22nd of February, and each year has seen marked progress in the movement.
In 1917 the Association resolved to broaden its organization and to commit the Masons of the United States to "the erection of a Temple costing not less than $500,000 with an endowment fund of $250,000." As the importance of our great movement has developed, however, it has been resolved to make our objective as many dollars as there are Masons in the United States, approximately 2,500,000, and to arrange for every Grand Jurisdiction to fill its quota, which is as many dollars as there are brethren in the respecting jurisdictions.
At our convention in February we had paid in, in cash, $708,223.31, of which $577,100 was invested in United States Govermnent securities; the balance to be thus invested and cash retained sufficient to pay for the work for which contracts are now about to be let.
A number of the Grand Jurisdictions have already gone over the top. Massachusetts, with 92,000 Masons, has paid in, in cash, over $110,000, and the Grand Lodge has in addition thereto agreed to pay $5,000 when called upon. New Hampshire is one hundred per cent.; so is Connecticut. Rhode Island is over the top. So is the District of Columbia. Maryland and Delaware are over one hundred per cent. Pennsylvania has paid in $93,500. The States of Washington, Arizona and Utah are over the top. Illinois has paid in to our Treasurer $49,000, and there is a very substantial sum now in the hands of its Grand Treasurer. New Jersey has paid in nearly $50,000. Some of the Grand Jurisdictions are just getting at work, among them New York under the chairmanship of Past Grand Master Judge William S. Farmer. Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, the Dakotas, Missouri, Texas, and many others of the Western and Southern States are enthusiastic in the movement; and there is no possible doubt that the objective will be reached and that the money will be available as required.
One year ago the Board of Directors was authorized to employ an architect and to submit to our Twelfth Annual Convention plans and a model of the proposed Memorial Temple. Helmle and Corbett, of New York, were engaged as Architects, and S. Eugene Osgood, 33d, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was employed as Consulting Architect. It is also proposed to engage Olmsted Brothers, of Brookline, Mass., as Landscape Architects.
The plans and model prepared by the architects were approved by the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors and submitted to the Association on the 22nd of February last.
On that occasion the firm of architects was represented by Harvey Wiley Corbett. He is a graduate engineer of the University of California, and a graduate architect, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. He received a government diploma and is seven times a Medalist. The Nero York Chapter, American Institute of Architects, presented him with a Medal of Honor. He built the Springfield Municipal Group at Springfield, Mass.; the Bush Terminal Office Building, New York; the Bush Buildings, of London, England; and other notable structures.
S. Eugene Osgood, representing the firm of Osgood and Osgood, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a 33d Mason, Past Master of his Blue Lodge, and Past Commander-in-Chief of his Consistory. During the last fifteen years he has designed many notable Masonic Temples. He received his architectural training at Cornell University, and is the junior member of a firm that has been in continuous architectural practice for over forty-five years.
In presenting the model and plans to our Association for approval, Brother Corbett gave us in a most interesting manner a vision of the Memorial. In opening his remarks he said:
"The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is primarily a memorial to George Washington, the Man and the Mason. Its form is inspired by the great towers built in the ancient days of Greece and Rome to mark the entrances to their harbors and from whose summits permanent burning flares that could be seen for miles at sea, guided the mariner on his way. The great tower of the Memorial represents to the world at large the guiding spirit of Washington in statesmanship, and his revered precepts which for all time will set an example by which the Ship of State may direct its course."
Brother Corbett, in continuing his description, did not undertake to go into the details of the plans, but gave us an excellent conception of what the work is to include.
The Temple will be in plain view of Washington, D. C., and will be passed by all who travel between the City of Washington and George Washington's old home at Mt. Vernon. The edifice will be surrounded by artistic landscaping, and will be reached by broad walks and stone steps ascending through seven terraces. From the topmost colonnaded tower of the Memorial, visitors will view for many miles around the region in which the immortal Washington passed a great part of his life.
The architecture is classic. The main masses of the building comprise a base in which will be located the great George Washington Memorial Hall and various Masonic rooms, and above this base will rise a form of tower.
The dimension of the edifice over all will be one hundred and sixty feet in width, by two hundred and thirty feet in depth, exclusive of its steps, terraces, and approaches. Its height to the summit of the covered observation platform crowning the tower will be two hundred feet.
One of the most stately features will be a great atrium, seventy feet wide, by one hundred feet deep, which will form the Memorial Hall, and in which it is now proposed to set a statue of George Washington. This great hall will be sixty-four feet in height, rising by a clerestory above the surrounding portion of the building. It will be flanked by great Ionic columns, forty feet high, and surrounded by a number of rooms devoted to Masonic interests, above the roof of which clerestory lights admit the light of day.
The entrance of the building will be expressed in a six-columned portico of pure Greek Doric design, forming an interesting contrast to the plain unbroken side walls of the Masonic rooms. The Memorial Hall will be reached through the portico by gradual steps.
Rising above the great Memorial Hall, and forming the second story of the tower, will be a museum room to house the many memorabilia of George Washington and his time, as well as interesting relics connected with Washington's service as Master of Alexandria, Washington Lodge. This museum will be fifty by seventy-five feet, with lofty ceiling and fine light. It will be reached both by stairs and elevators.
There will be a third level above the museum. Above it will be a covered observation platform. The three levels will be screened by stately colonnades.
These four elements will form the great tower, inspired by the classic towers which, as Mr. Corbett has stated, guided the mariners of old.
The broad steps and grassy terraces, adorned with shrubs, will add to the imposing and beautiful effect of the Temple.
The plans and model were unanimously approved by the Association, after which the President offered the following recommendation:
"That working drawings, specifications, etc., be completed as soon as possible, so that total estimates of cost can be procured; that contracts for the excavation and foundation units be awarded, with the end in view of laying the cornerstone some time in early fall; that further contracts be awarded from that point on up to and including the completion of the work, but with the distinct understanding that no contract, under any circumstances, shall be let until the money is actually in hand to meet it."
This recommendation was adopted by the Association.
Following the convention's adjournment the Board of Directors authorized the working plans to be proceeded with, and the work of excavating and the building of the foundation walls will be begun at a very early day.
It is hoped that the cornerstone may be laid on the 4th of November next, which will be the 170th anniversary of the entry of Brother Washington into Masonry. That should be made a grand, gala day for Masons from all over the United States. It should be made such an affair as will impress the brethren with the deep meaning of the important work we have on hand, and broad enough in scope to include not only the Grand Lodges of the forty-nine Jurisdictions, but all the Bodies affiliated therewith.
The lasting value of this Memorial building can not be measured by money. It will do much more than house and preserve the priceless relics of Washington's lodge. It will be a center and rallying-point for Masons not only in our own country, but for members of the Fraternity in every land, and it will cement and strengthen Freemasonry. This great Memorial will serve to teach the power that inheres in a closer co-ordination of fraternal energy and will promote the unity of purpose which is so much to be desired.
- Source: The Builder - July 1922





A Brief History of the Memorial


The two Lodges most closely associated with George Washington are Fredericksburg Lodge at Fredericksburg, Virginia, his Mother Lodge and Alexandria-Washington Lodge at Alexandria, Virginia, where he was elected Charter Master under the Grand Lodge of Virginia. No precise date can be found when the Lodge at Fredericksburg was chartered. The date of its first meeting is usually ascribed as September 1, 1752, under a dispensation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Colony of Massachusetts. The Lodge was granted a charter on July 21, 1758, by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Washington was initiated an Entered Apprentice on November 4, 1752, passed to Fellowcraft on March 3, 1753, and raised to Master Mason on August 4, 1753.
The Lodge at Alexandria, Virginia was first warranted by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on February 3, 1783, as Lodge No. 39. George Washington attended a St. John the Baptist Celebration of the Lodge in June of 1784. He was later made an Honorary Member of the Lodge. On April 22, 1788, the Lodge received a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Virginia as Alexandria Lodge No. 22. The Lodge asked Washington to be its Charter Master under the Virginia Charter and he agreed. Washington was inaugurated as the First President of the United States on April 30, 1789 while holding the office of Master of Alexandria Lodge. After his death on December 14, 1799, the Lodge was renamed Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, by the Grand Lodge of Virginia.
Through the generosity of Washington's family and friends, Alexandria-Washington Lodge became the repository of many artifacts of Washington and the Washington family. The Lodge rooms were inadequate for the display and storage of the memorabilia and fire in the Lodge in 1871 destroyed many of the invaluable and significant Washington artifacts.
History is replete with men who, out of necessity, arise to undertake a great enterprise. For this occasion, it was Charles H. Callahan, who in 1909, while Senior Warden of Alexandria-Washington Lodge, purchased several lots on Shuters Hill, which he gave to the Lodge for the site of a fire proof Lodge Hall. Following consultation with and with the urging of the Lodge, Joseph W. Eggleston, the Grand Master of Virginia, invited every Grand Master in the United States to assemble in Alexandria-Washington Lodge on February 22, 1910 for the purpose of forming an association to plan and build a suitable Memorial to George Washington, the Mason. Representatives from twenty-six Grand Lodges did assemble and approved and endorsed the erection of the Memorial, and The George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association was formed. Thomas Shryock, Grand Master of Maryland, was elected the first President of the Memorial Association.
Ten years after the first official meeting of the Association, the concept of a colossal building as a Memorial "lighthouse" to Washington was approved by the Grand Lodges of the United States. The site was selected because it followed the ancient tradition for the location of temples on hilltops or mountains. It was also located on land with which General Washington was familiar; it was the very spot once proposed by Thomas Jefferson as the ideal site for the nation's Capitol.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 5, 1922. Louis A. Watres, President of the Memorial Association and Past Grand Master of Pennsylvania, and Charles H. Callahan, Past Master of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, and a future Grand Master of Virginia participated in the ceremony. Despite the great expense, the Memorial Association was determined not to borrow money. Construction only proceeded as money was collected for each stage of the project.
On November 1, 1923, the Memorial's cornerstone was dedicated in a Masonic ceremony. President Calvin Coolidge, former President and Chief Justice William H. Taft and numerous other dignitaries performed the ceremony before a crowd of thousands of Freemasons from around the nation. The onset of the Great Depression did not stop work on the Memorial. For over 10 years, Freemasons steadily and faithfully contributed to the construction of the Memorial. On May 12, 1932, the bicentennial year of George Washington's birth, the dedication of the Memorial took place with President Herbert Hoover participating.
After World War II, work on the Memorial's interior began in earnest. By 1970, the George Washington Masonic Memorial was completed. In 1999, the large square and compasses were added to the front lawn, a visible sign to the Masonic nature of the Memorial. A repository of many artifacts and the history of American Freemasons, the Memorial remains a lasting monument to George Washington, the Man, the Mason, and Father of our Country.