Thursday, October 13, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2087


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 224 years ago today, October 13, 1792, the first stone of the President's House was laid here in the Nation's Capital.  The description of this historic event comes from a news story appearing in the Charleston City Gazette of November 15, 1792.

"On Saturday the 13th inst. the first stone was laid in the southwest corner of the President's House, in the city of Washington, by the Free Masons of George-town and its vicinity who assembled on the occasion.

The procession was formed at the Fountain Inn, Georgetown.  The ceremony was performed by brother J.T. Casneve, the master of the lodge.  He delivered an oration well adapted to the occasion."

The news story also informed readers that a brass plate was placed inside the cornerstone with the following inscription:

"George Washington, President.
T. Johnson, Doctor Stewart, Daniel Carroll, James Hoban, Architect
Collen Williamson, Master Mason
Vivat Respublica

According to Hannah Schwefel of The St. Norbest Times, the cornerstone, made out of very heavy Aquia sandstone from Virginia, has not been seen since it was first laid.  The Masonic tradition was to locate first stones in the Northeast corner, but a letter found in 1946 suggested the White House cornerstone was laid in the Southwest corner.

Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman attempted unsuccessfully to locate the cornerstone.  Ms. Schwefel says that its location remains a mystery.


"The Mystery of the White House Cornerstone," by Hannah Schwefel, St. Norbest Times,

" 1792-Strange Secrets of the White House,"

The White House
North Portico
Photo by John White (2016)