One of the most visible aspects of the Masonic fraternity is its long tradition of ceremonially laying the cornerstones of public and private buildings. This tradition contains great meaning for Masons and ties the fraternity closely to many cities around the country including Washington, DC.
Originally prepared by Brother John Duffey, a craftsman and Freemason, the marble gavel was first used in 1793 by President George Washington to the lay the cornerstone of the United States Capitol. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Washington gifted the Gavel to Valentine Reintzel; the head of Potomac who had assisted Washington during the ceremony. Reintzel kept it safely in his possession until his passing and then returned back to the lodge for safe keeping. Throughout its 225 year history, it has been loaned out by the lodge to lay the cornerstone of several other edifices across the District and the United States including the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Cathedral.