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Sunday, September 24, 2017

DC's Naval Lodge 4 on Capitol Hill

I always find these things out late. Back in July, a bit of Masonic history was made in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington DC. Each year, the members of the District's historic Naval Lodge 4 hold a meeting inside the Capitol building. Their lodge, originally chartered as a Maryland lodge in 1805 (Washington Naval Lodge 41), has a longstanding historic tie to the building itself, and their magnificent lodge room features an altar made of scraps of marble from an 1858 expansion of the landmark. Because of their physical location, it has long been nicknamed "the lodge on Capitol Hill."

Click to enlarge

This year was a little different, and they held more than just a meeting. On July 6th, 2017, four candidates of Naval Lodge were initiated as Entered Apprentices in a special room just steps from the Capitol Rotunda. This is believed to be the first EA degree performed in the U.S. Capitol building.

In the early years of the republic, there were occasional meetings of Masons in the Capitol, including at least one unsuccessful effort to start a movement to form a national Grand Lodge. In more recent years, there have been a number of lodges that have held meetings in the various congressional office buildings near the Capitol, and ceremonies and processions in the Capitol itself.

If you visit Washington DC, you owe it to yourself to visit Naval Lodge 4's unique lodge room, featuring its strong Egyptian motifs. Their distinctive building on Pennsylvania Avenue SE was erected in 1894, and still features its manually operated antique elevator (tip your driver). If the Library of Congress wasn't plopped in the way, you could see the Capitol from their doorstep. The lodge's members took part in hauling the foundation stone of the Washington Monument from the Washington Navy Yard all the way to the site where the Monument would slowly rise over the decades. Consequently, when they designed their lodge room's decor, they took the Egyptian-styled obelisk's theme of the Monument as their inspiration. It's well worth your visit, and there are more than a few unique dining and drinking establishments in the surrounding neighborhood to sample while there.

(All photos from Voice of Freemasonry, courtesy Naval Lodge 4.)

H/T: Paul Rich

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