Reading this week:
- Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago
The day after our adventurous and wooly trip to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, my super amazing girlfriend, her super amazing friends, and I went to the George Washington Memorial Masonic Temple.
Now, as well all know, the Masons are the public arm of the Illuminati, which control all world governments and stuff like that. This used to make me very suspicious of Masons, because I think they are being very rude to not reveal the non-extinct mammoths up in the arctic (I think it would be fun to ride one and have one as a pet), but now everything is cool because one of the aforementioned friends of my super amazing girlfriend is a Mason. This made him very interested in seeing this Masonic Temple, and I am sure it will help me get first in line for a pet mammoth. So it’s all very cool.
I had actually visited this Masonic Temple five years or so ago, before I knew any Masons. I remember it being a very interesting time, and I also remember them being very into George Washington. I realize this makes sense, but man you have no idea if you haven’t been there. This memory was not only confirmed but massively boosted upon this visit. A little later I was trying to come up with the tenants of a truly American religion with my super amazing girlfriend, one that wasn’t like just Jesus fanfiction, involving instead like maybe eagles and stuff, and she pointed out that George Washington is already well on his way if not already an American god (American God?). At the Masonic Temple, this is evident by the sheer and overwhelming number of George Washington relics they have, turning the whole temple into more or less an architecturally impressive reliquary. Going through the things I managed to snap pictures of, a short list of George Washington objects include:
- His ceremonial masonic trowel
- His town house desk
- Chairs from his town house
- Multiple objects made from trees more or less loosely associated with him, including: a gavel, a carved wooden book, a picture frame, and just a normal block of wood
- Many parts of his house at Mt. Vernon, including a cypress shingle, a wood rain gutter (how and when did someone take this?), and a wrought iron nail
- His bootstrap
- His spurs
- A tea caddy and gaming pieces
- A different tea caddy
- A silver dish cross
- A strand of his hair
- A different lock of his hair
- A leather bucket from the Alexandria fire company he helped form
- The Washington family bible
I actually have to admit I am being a little coy with that list. The above list is like, the relatively normal things they have associated with George Washington, because I think the more interesting things are those associated directly with the death of George Washington, along with his two funerals. This list, if you ask me, contains the far more bonkers things and also my favorite objects. It feels like they have every object that was within a 100′ radius of the dead George Washington. For example, they have:
- The clock that was in the room when he died (above picture, far right; they disabled it to mark the time of his death, leaving both a morbid memento for Mrs. Washington and also ruining her clock? She gave it to the Masons)
- The pocketwatch used by Dr. Dick at Washington’s deathbed
- A coffin strap used to carry him
- The trowel (not the ceremonial one) used to seal the new marble sarcophagus in his tomb.
- A candle from his funeral
- A mourning armband worn by a friend at his funeral
- A paste gem knee buckle worn by some dude at Washington’s funeral
- The sabers that were laid on his tomb
- A commemorative shoe buckle (one of my favorite things and I hope when I die people make commemorative shoe buckles)
- And several objects made from Washington’s first casket, including a pin and a cup. A cup!
I mention all that just to say that if you visit the George Washington Memorial Mormon Temple, which I recommend because it is great, you should know what you are getting yourself into. But to start at the beginning, the tour was very nice. You meet in the main entryway, which includes giant marble columns, giant paintings featuring George Washington, and a giant statue of George Washington in his full Mason regalia. Normal stuff and if it had more natural lighting I might push to do up our living room in a similar way.
The tour was led by a very nice man who was himself of course a Mason. During the course of the tour you go higher and higher up the temple, which focuses on being tall. You go higher via an elevator which is cool because it actually goes up at a 7° incline because it is at the edge of the tower and the tower goes up at an (on average) 7° incline. Beside the entry hall there is a recreation of the Masonic Temple room that was formerly housed in the Alexandria city town hall (across from Gadsby’s Tavern, where they also had some meetings). This is where a lot of these George Washington artifacts are. On the next floor up there is a room full of neat Mason costumes, and above that is where most of the Dead George Washington artifacts are, and then also a bust, a statue, and a painting of George Washington, all staring at each other more or less. Finally you ascend to the tippy top floor, where you can go out and see the views. We were also blasted by wind but that added to the charm.
The temple is probably one of the best views in the DC area. It’s higher up than the Washington Monument (well I guess I should say the other Washington Monument) and you are outside so you don’t have to just peer through teeny tiny windows. You can really look out over the landscape. We could quite literally see our house from there. It’s in the above picture, towards the left. I guess you have to squint to see downtown Washington from there though, but then again who wants to see downtown Washington when you can look down King Street and admire the might Potomac river. Amiright? VA forever, DC sux.
Anyways after that they take you back down and you exit via the gift shop. It was a very nice gift shop and if you ever need a Mason-related present it is the place to go for sure. They had quite the line of Christmas ornaments. Anyways if you are in town I recommend a visit, which I realize is what I almost always say at the end of these things. But it was closed for like two years so get those tickets while you can!