The Memorial is Now a National Historic Landmark

Celebrate the George Washington Masonic National Memorial becoming a National Historic Landmark, 10 a.m., Saturday, February 27, 2016


The George Washington Masonic National Memorial was recently added to the United States government’s official list of National Historic Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places. To celebrate this, a special ceremony is planned for this Saturday, February 27, 2016, at 10 a.m. Officals from the National Park Service and the President of the Memorial Association will be on hand as the historical plaque bearing the designation is unveiled.


This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 10 a.m. at the Memorial's front steps. It will be followed by a short tour of the building. The unveiling is part of the Memorial's celebration of Washington's Birthday, which is also recognized with a free Symposium from 1 to 4 p.m., and a private Gala in the evening.


Background

As you may have seen in the news, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial was recently added to the United States government’s official list of National Historic Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places. By coincidence, the official announcement fell on August 4—an auspicious day, being the 262nd anniversary of Washington’s raising as a Master Mason in Fredericksburg in 1753. This is an exclusive status, reserved only for buildings and sites that possess extraordinary significance to our nation’s history. At last, our Fraternity’s beautiful Memorial to the life and character of George Washington has been so recognized.


What does this mean from the perspective of the Memorial Association’s member jurisdictions? It is important to bear in mind that the designation of the Memorial as a National Historic Landmark does not mean that the Federal government will become involved in the support of the Memorial. This status simply means that there is official recognition that the Memorial is a place that—as the National Park Service puts it—possesses “exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”


Indeed, the foundation of that historical importance is that this Memorial was conceived, funded, built, and maintained by the Freemasons of the United States as a testimony of their admiration of George Washington. The NPS’ statement emphasizes that designation of the Memorial as a National Historic Landmark would “recognize the significance of the Memorial as the only major unified, fully national initiative of the Freemasons and among the boldest attempts by a private organization to memorialize George Washington,” and that being named to the list would “help to ensure that a preservation ethic will guide the future management and maintenance of the Memorial, and encourage civic pride and popular support for the site.”


For a thorough understanding of why this new status was designated, we see the NPS Executive Summary Form (PDF). The complete Nomination Form (PDF) is also available.


In other words, our new status as a National Historic Landmark is in recognition of the fact that American Masons have built and maintain the Memorial through private donations. We rely upon that ongoing support to fund our very active ongoing restoration efforts. The donations we receive also allow our many valuable programs to flourish. In short, the Fraternity’s support of the Memorial makes the Memorial what it is. This new designation does not change that; it merely recognizes its vital importance in the story of our nation.


Join us in celebrating this important achievement for the Memorial. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the National Historic Landmark designation. We are happy to answer your inquiries.