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Conrad Yeats

Washingtonople: The secret history of America's capital: Part 2

July 24, 2017 | Comment icon 0 comments
Image Credit: Susan Sterner
Fit For a Pharoh

Central to L'Enfant's 1790 plan for a new federal city was the executive residence of the president. And indeed, on October 13, 1792, the cornerstone of the Executive Mansion was laid by the Freemasons and the Commissioners of the District of Columbia.

But the ceremony was not without controversy.

L'Enfant's plans, approved by Washington, called for a "Presidential palace" five times the size of the structure we now know as the White House. Designed for "ages to come," the proposed White Palace embodied the Federalist Party's exalted, monarchial notion of the Presidency.

It was also planned to align with the northern (easternmost) star of Orion's belt, Alnitak.

Republicans, however, led by Jefferson, took issue with the Federalist plan.

Not because of the site, but because a "Presidential palace" was simply too "royalist." Jefferson instead called for a "President's house" as more befitting a democracy.

And so the White House was erected on L'Enfant's site but built according to the more modest blueprints of James Hoban, an Irish architect whose design was based on the country houses of the British Isles.

Work began in 1793 on what is now the north grounds of the White House.

Skilled workers were in short supply, so stonemasons were recruited in Edinburgh, Scotland (the veritable capital of Freemasonry at the time), and slaves were hired from their owners.

Egypt had her pyramids; America had her monuments.

By the time Washington left office in 1797, the walls stood and the roof was framed. Windows were installed and interior walls were plastered over the next three years until November 1, 1800, when John Adams, the second President, moved in three months before his term ended.

His prayer for the occasion:

"I Pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."

In spite of its questionable occupants, alterations, altercations (1812) and constant modernizing, the site and structure of the White House have been faithfully preserved. And, following a precedent set by Thomas Jefferson, "America's house" is open to the public.

At least parts of it.

In reality, there is a maze of underground corridors beneath the presidential compound that is remarkably similar to those found beneath the pyramids at Giza.

Some of these tunnels have become infamous in terms of their utility for whisking a president (or his love interests) into or out of the White House for a clandestine rendezvous.

Other tunnels, however, some of which have not been explored (until now) since 1797, were clearly built for another purpose, the nature of which is made clear by the direction in which the tunnels travel and where each terminus lies.

An Obelisk Rises

By design the marble Washington Monument is a classical Egyptian obelisk and the tallest structure in Washington, D.C. at 555' 5 1/8". It is also the tallest freestanding stone structure in the world.

According to Masonic theology,

"the obelisk, resembling the shape of a flame, caused these monuments to be consecrated to the Sun and to Fire...the obelisks were erected in honor of the Sun."1

This most certainly was NOT what President Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he marked the site for a proposed "equestrian statue" to honor George Washington directly south of the White House and west of the U.S. Capitol in 1804.2

Officially, Jefferson said his marker was intended to serve as the National Mall's official point of demarcation with respect to longitude East and West. But it was really his attempt to thwart any chance that the Washington Monument would complete the second leg of L'Enfant's plan by aligning with the middle star of Orion's Belt, Alnilam.

Today, however, a towering, 555-foot-tall obelisk casts its shadow over the National Mall, much like L'Enfant's grand plan for America's capital city.

How did this happen?

The Washington National Monument Society

On September 26, 1833, almost 30 years after Jefferson had marked the site for Washington's memorial, a private group of citizens arose to form "the Washington National Monument Society."

Many of them were Freemasons, and some of them were the most influential Americans of their day.

The Society's first president was Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, 78, a friend of Washington's. When Marshall died two years later, former President James Madison was named the new president. With that precedent set, the Society changed their constitution to include the President of the United States as their honorary president, a tradition that continues to this day.

It was the Society that selected (and actually scaled down) architect Robert Mills' award-winning design for an Egyptian obelisk.

And on July 4, 1848,

"under a clear sky in the presence of the President of the United States and virtually every notable of the government... the cornerstone was set with masonic ceremonies by the Grand Lodge of Masons of the District of Columbia."3

In fact, almost 20,000 people gathered around the designated mound for the laying of the cornerstone. Among those attending were President James K. Polk, George Washington Parke Custis (Martha Washington's grandson), Dolly Madison, and Mrs. Alexander Hamilton.

Also present were James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and a little-known congressman named Abraham Lincoln.

One of the principal addresses of the occasion was given by Benjamin B. French, Grand Master,

"who wore the same masonic apron that Washington wore at the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. In his address French referred to the masonic master's chair used by Washington as Worshipful Master of Washington-Alexandria, and the gavel used by the first President to set the cornerstone of the Capitol, in the custody of Potomac Lodge #5 of Georgetown, D.C. Both of these were on display for the occasion along with other Washignton masonic relics."4

Interestingly enough, that mound upon which the Washington Monument was built was NOT the site Thomas Jefferson had so painstakingly marked off in 1804.

Rather, according to documents of the era, the Washington Monument was forced to a new construction site,

"due to foundation problems caused by the marshy, damp soil upon which all of Washington, D.C., was built."

And where would this new site be?

Interestingly, the Society selected a site "slightly west of Jefferson's original intended position," directly in line with L'Enfant's original vision and the middle star of Orion's Belt, Alnilam. But by 1848, when construction on the Washington monument began, the site had turned into a marsh. The Society had no choice but to move the location for the monument "a few hundred feet to the southeast."

So Jefferson had apparently prevailed. [For another 150 years, anyway.]

Slowly the obelisk began to take shape, rising higher and higher toward the sky. Finally, after various financial setbacks, the Civil War and the transfer of the monument and grounds over to the United States government, the Washington Monument was finished, courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Finally, a 3,300-pound capstone was placed at the top and crowned with a nine-inch-tall pyramid made of aluminum, a rare metal in those days. Engraved on one side of the aluminum apex are the words: LAUS DEO.

According to official records,

"The dedication was held in cold winter on February 21, 1885. Again the Grand Lodge of Masons of the District of Columbia participated using an adaptation of the cornerstone ceremony they had used in 1848.

Grand Master Myron M. Parker gave an oration, and again the Washington masonic relics were displayed and Washington's Masonic career was discussed."5
The official dedication celebration, which included fireworks, was held the day before Washington's birthday in 1885. But it wasn't until October 1888 that the monument was officially open to the public. Why?

The Masonic Memorial Stones

In that three-year period between the dedication ceremonies and the admission of the general public, work was still being done on the interior -- work that would complete underground what had already been completed in the heavens.

Officially, that work completed the 897-step stairwell to the observation deck at the 500-foot level, as well as the conversion of the elevator platform, used in the construction of the obelisk, into a steam-hoisted passenger car.6

But something else was going on as well, as the following official documentation from the Department of Interior observes:

"The Washington National Monument Society, in charge of fund- raising for the Monument, sensed the importance of Washington's masonic membership and great pride that masons felt across the country for their brother, Washington, the father of our country.

The Society in 1851 and 1853 solicited members of the Masonic Order nationally through the Grand Lodges, to make contributions to the construction of the monument...

The Society solicited the Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Sons of Temperance and other fraternal orders as well."

In all, 193 memorial stones adorn the interior of the monument. Over the years the stones have been damaged by moisture and vandalism.7 More than a few have interesting stories.

View all the individual masonic memorial stones at:

For example, the first Masonic stone ascending the Monument is that of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia at the 50 foot landing.

As the Department of Interior notes,

"This earliest Masonic contribution was no doubt tied into the cornerstone-laying ceremony where the Grand Lodge of D.C. presided."

Another one of the commemorative stones was a block of marble originally from the Temple of Concord in Rome.

This stone was a gift from Pope Pius IX. On March 6, 1854, the stone was stolen by masked thieves and either broken into pieces, or dumped into the Potomac River. Whatever its fate, it was never found and no arrests were made.8

Then there's the peculiar lore surrounding the California stone, which arrived in Washington on August 2, 1860, and was ultimately embedded in the west wall at the 120-foot level. That stone, in fact, was a replacement for a previous "Atlantis Stone" that was recovered from the bottom of the ocean and contained mysterious crystal stars.

Records from the War Department describe the crystals as "a kind of quartz, but not quartz."

What was this "stone with crystal stars" doing in the hands of the War Department? And whatever happened to it?

The answer may well rest in a most unusual place.

The Ultimate Map Room

The Washington Monument is in fact the ultimate "map room" to the "City of Washingtonople," a central repository that for the trained eye lays out in great detail the secret design of the city. And this map of the city is built into the monument itself.

View from the top of the monument in all directions HERE9

Not only can a superior within the Society survey the cardinal points of the National Mall - North, South, East and West - by day or night from the observation deck. He or she can also follow the direction of the 193 masonic stones like a treasure map to coordinates above and below the city of Washington, D.C.

It's a treasure trail that ends in a never-before-revealed corridor deep beneath the north grounds of the White House.

The Final Alignment

With the establishment of Washington, D.C. in the 18th century and the completion of the Washington Monument in the 19th century, a new group was formed at the dawn of the 20th century to extend L'Enfant's vision for the National Mall into the 21st century.

This group was known as the McMillian Park Commission.

And in the decades that followed, all subsequent developments and park master plans as well as general management plans under the National Park Service, National Capital Parks-Central have successfully adhered to the general principles of the 1901-02 McMillian Plan.

Among those developments were the construction of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. With their construction, the American republic finally had the White House in the North and the Jefferson Memorial in the South, and the U.S. Capitol Building in the East and the Lincoln Memorial in the West.

But it's two other monuments, currently on the drawing boards, that will, if erected, complete L'Enfant's vision for three terrestrial landmarks to align with their celestial counterparts, the three belt stars of Orion.

These proposed landmarks are the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Memorial and the World War II Veterans Memorial.

The proposed FDR Presidential Memorial1 was authorized on September 5, 1959, and is to be situated along the Tidal Basin near the National Mall.

This location, as it turns out, is aligned to the southern (westernmost) star of Orion's Belt, Mintaka.

Lawrence Halprin's design for the memorial, encompassing 7.5 acres in a park-like setting, not only fits perfectly within the 1901 McMillian plan but also solves the most problematic portion of L'Enfant's original 1790 vision.

That's because in 1790, well before the Tidal Basin was built up, cleaned up and landscaped, any terrestrial marker would have been underwater.

The proposed World War II Veteran's Memorial, meanwhile, is to be erected at what is currently the Rainbow Pool, at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

This placement corrects the problems caused by the misalignment of the Washington Monument, again due to the inability of the technology of the era to overcome the geological situation.



And so, more than 200 years after its birth, L'Enfant's plan is on the verge of being fulfilled at the dawn of America's third century. The White House, World War II Memorial and FDR Memorial will complete the mission that the White House, Washington monument and Jefferson Memorial could not.

The site plan for the World War II Veterans Memorial will no doubt prompt protests, seeing as it will obstruct the view between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

Which is why its design will most likely and cleverly echo Stonehenge. How it will be disguised, I do not know, although fifty pillars representing the fifty states in an open circle is most likely, as this will play to the aesthetics of the open mall.

Like previous monument constructions, the WWII memorial will endure the harsh glare of public scrutiny. But in the end, after many years, it will rise and fulfill its destiny as the final piece of L'Enfant's great puzzle of the cosmos.

And the countdown will have begun.


Washingtonople: The Secret History of America's Capital, a column provided to, was originally published by Conrad Yeats, PhD from Washington on September 21, 1990.

DR. CONRAD YEATS is a fictional character from the blockbuster novel RAISING ATLANTIS (

But he swears what he's saying is true!

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