Ideals of Freemasonry at District's Foundation; Influences Abound, from Capitol to Dollar Bill

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 21, 2005 | Go to article overview

Ideals of Freemasonry at District's Foundation; Influences Abound, from Capitol to Dollar Bill


Byline: Lisa Rauschart, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The evidence is there on the money. Traces are found in the configuration of the District of Columbia. Their touch is present in the shape of the Washington Monument, the orientation of the Capitol building, and in countless other structures throughout the city.

If you look hard enough, Masonic influences are everywhere.

"The Masons were intimately involved in the history of the District of Columbia and in the history of the nation," says artist Peter Waddell, whose paintings are featured in an exhibit currently running at the Octagon on New York Avenue NW, "The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry and the Architecture of Washington, D.C."

The Octagon mounted the exhibit in partnership with the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C. A July 30 bus tour sponsored by the museum will uncover the Masonic symbolism behind some of Washington's most famous buildings and memorials, from the White House to the FDR Memorial.

But if you can't wait until then, a trip to the Octagon is a good place to start. Mr. Waddell's large-scale paintings function both as historical documents and interpretive panels:

Here is George Washington laying the cornerstone of the Capitol, which he did in 1793 in full Masonic regalia with due Masonic ceremony.

Here are the Scottish and Irish stone workers who helped to build the White House holding a Masonic meeting on the grounds after work has ended for the day.

And here is the construction of the Scottish Rite Temple on 16th Street, the most expensive private building of its time, considered the greatest work of architect John Russell Pope in this city.

Don't stop with the exhibit. Once you've been initiated, a trip around town will never be the same. Many neighborhoods can boast their own Masonic hall. Some of them are still used; others are long abandoned.

Statues of Latin American revolutionary heroes along Virginia Avenue NW - Benito Juarez at Virginia and New Hampshire, Simon Bolivar at 18th and C and Virginia, and Jose de San Martin at Virginia and 20th Street - have one thing in common: All the men they honor were Masons. And a stroll down U Street NW will take you past the hall of the Prince Hall Masons, home to Duke Ellington and Thurgood Marshall.

"It's an extraordinary city, full of mystery," says Mr. Waddell, an American citizen originally from New Zealand who, though not himself a Mason, began working on the project about two years ago.

"There are many things about the place and design that coincide with Masonic ideals," he said.

Coincidence? Well, maybe. But it's hard to ignore the symbolic language embedded in Washington's buildings, statues and memorials.

Most of the city's important buildings were devised by Masons. Architect James Hoban, who designed the White House, was a Mason. Capitol architect Benjamin Latrobe was a Mason. Architect Robert Mills, responsible for the Washington Monument, was a Mason. Cornerstones for all these were laid after elaborate Masonic parades and dedication ceremonies.

Masons, who make it a point of principle to "seek the light" at all times, say it's no accident that the Capitol was placed on the Mall's eastern end - which means people must "look toward the light" when they turn to it from the Mall - or that the statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome faces east, toward the light of the rising sun.

"We'll probably never know whether those early Masons spent time in the lodge talking about the symbolism of the city and how it would be realized," says Akram Elias, junior grand warden of the Grand Lodge, Free And Accepted Masons (FAAM) of the District of Columbia, on MacArthur Boulevard NW, who will be leading the bus tour.

"But people certainly embraced the ideas and internalized the concepts that were being discussed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ideals of Freemasonry at District's Foundation; Influences Abound, from Capitol to Dollar Bill
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.