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Rare apron on display

By Staff | Feb 18, 2011

Several new exhibits will be on display at Mt. Vernon starting Feb. 19.

One of them will feature a local historic artifact on loan to Mt. Vernon from the brethren of Mt. Nebo Lodge #91, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Shepherdstown.

They have loaned a ceremonial masonic apron to the curator of Mt. Vernon.

This masonic apron was made in France and is believed to have been presented to George Washington at Mt. Vernon in 1784 by the Marquis de Lafayette, a former general and close personal friend of Washington’s who was also a Freemason.

The apron features compasses and square-central Masonic symbols, together with crossed flags of the United States and France. These are embroidered in silk and gold and silver wrapped threads with metallic sequins.

Washington would have worn this apron when attending masonic meetings, and Freemasons still wear similar aprons when they meet today.

After Martha Washington died, her niece’s husband bought it for $6. He gave it to the Mt. Nebo Lodge prior to his death in 1820.

In 1844 it was on display for a short time at the Jefferson County Courthouse. It was worn by the Masonic Grand Master at the cornerstone ceremony of the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848.

“George Washington was a very active member of the Mason organization,” said Ed Calhoun, member of Mt. Nebo Lodge in a press release.

For more than 100 years this treasured apron was only on display within the lodge. The members decided that it was a national treasure and loaned it to Mt. Vernon.

“In commemoration of the bicentennial year of the Mt. Nebo Lodge #91 in 2011, we are pleased to loan this national treasure to Mount Vernon,” said George Alwin, current Master of the Lodge, in a release.