New George Washington Object and Two New Exhibits on Display at Historic Mount Vernon

New George Washington Object and Two New Exhibits on Display at Historic Mount Vernon

Brethren of Mt. Nebo Lodge #91, 15th Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia & other Brethren all.
It is with great pleasure to present this Press Release by the Mt. Vernon Estates concerning the exhibition of Mt. Nebo #91 Lodges’ George Washington Apron beginning on February 19th, 2011 at the Donald W. Reynolds Education Center @ Mt. Vernon, Virginia.  Mt. Nebo Brethren will participate in the official unveiling ceremonies tentatively scheduled for Saturday, February 19th, 2011.  The final arrangements re. time, travel, etc have not yet been established.  Subsequent announcements will be forthcoming.


New George Washington Object and Two New Exhibits on Display at Historic Mount Vernon

Additions on Display in Time for George Washington’s Birthday Celebration, beginning Feb. 19

Mount Vernon, VA. – Historic Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, celebrates the first commander-in-chief’s 279th birthday with three new exciting additions on display beginning February 19 inside the Donald W. Reynolds Education Center. For the first time in over 200 years, one of Washington’s Masonic aprons will return to Mount Vernon!  The Education Center provides a new look at Washington’s political and military leadership through two new exhibits, Tools of War and Power Through Union.  Please visit for more information.


George Washington’s Masonic Apron
On view February 19 through May 19.

On loan from the Brethren of Mt. Nebo Lodge #91, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons Shepherdstown, West Virginia

This Masonic apron was made in France and is believed to have been presented to George Washington at Mount Vernon in 1784 by the Marquis de Lafayette, a former general and close friend of Washington’s who was also a Freemason.  The apron features compasses and square – central Masonic symbols – together with the crossed flags of the United States and France, all exquisitely 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. Aprons are the badge of a Freemason.

After Martha Washington’s death in 1802, the apron is believed to have been purchased for six dollars from her estate by Thomas Hammond, husband of George Washington’s niece, Mildred Washington. It was given to the Mt. Nebo Lodge in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, prior to Hammond’s death in 1820. In 1844, it was displayed at an anniversary celebration at the Jefferson County courthouse in nearby Charles Town. It was also worn by the Masonic Grand Master at the cornerstone ceremony of the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848.

For more than 100 years, this apron could only be seen within the walls of the Mt. Nebo Lodge, where generations of local Freemasons treasured the fragile relic. Recognizing its significant history, Lodge members brought it to Mount Vernon in 2009 for conservation and exhibition.

According to the current Master of Mt. Nebo Lodge, George Alwin, its display also marks a significant occasion in the Lodge’s history. “In commemoration of the bicentennial of Mt. Nebo Lodge #91 in 2011, we are pleased to loan this national treasure to Mount Vernon,” said Alwin. “It has been our honor to preserve this important piece of Masonic history in our Lodge.”


Tools of War Exhibit – Donald W. Reynolds Education Center
Opening February 19

In partnership with the American Revolution Center, over thirty firearms, edged weapons, and other pieces of military equipment used in the Revolutionary War will be on display in the new Tools of War display. The new installation highlights the difficulties George Washington overcame in creating an effective fighting force and defeating one of the world’s most powerful armies.

“Many Americans, if they even know we fought a Revolution against Great Britain at all, have a misconception that we won our independence through guerilla warfare alone, by buckskin-clad farmers shooting at robot-like redcoats from behind trees and stone fences,” said Curator Susan P. Schoelwer. “In reality, the war could only be won by an army well equipped with modern weapons and properly trained in contemporary battlefield tactics – and only a leader like Washington could prevail over these obstacles.”

By examining how military weaponry, discipline, and strategy factored into George Washington’s leadership in the Revolutionary War, Tools of War enriches our understanding of the American achievement in winning independence from Great Britain.


Power Through Union – Donald W. Reynolds Education Center
Opening February 19

Power Through Union provides glimpses into the key spaces where the founding fathers came together to draft the Constitution of the United States and establish the legislative foundations of our national government.

Included in the exhibit is an historic reproduction of the “Rising Sun” chair George Washington sat in as President of the Constitutional Convention, which met in secrecy in Philadelphia from May to September 1787.  It takes its name from the sunburst carved at its top, and James Madison’s recollection that as the delegates signed the final draft of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin was heard saying that he had often looked at this detail and wondered about the Convention’s success but “now…I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not setting sun.” The original chair, made by John Folwell in 1779, is on view at Independence Hall National Park in Philadelphia. It is the only documented piece of furniture used during the Convention known to survive.

Accompanying the “Rising Sun” chair is a desk from a large order of furniture made for the federal government’s use after it moved from New York in 1790 to new offices in Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Two similar desks, both on exhibit at Independence National Historic Park, and several upholstered armchairs used by the Senate, including one at Mount Vernon, also still exist from these commissions.

As Associate Curator Laura Simo sees it, “The Constitution and law are generally thought of as just words on paper or abstract concepts devoid of time, place, and the people who thought of them. Everyday objects like a chair and desk humanizes them, and powerfully reminds us of the flesh-and-blood origins of the United States. A country we take for granted is the product of heated debates and compromises as well as mundane office tasks.”


Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $13.00; senior citizens, $12.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $6.00; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.


Mt. Nebo Lodge #91
For more information about Mt. Nebo Lodge #91, please visit


American Revolution Center
For more information about the American Revolution Center, please visit

Edward Calhoun, PM
MT NEBO Lodge 91
PO Box 991
Shepherdstown, WV  25443
Web Site:
Lodge #: 304-876-2951
Stated: 1st & 3rd Mondays 7:30 PM O’Clock
200 years Free Masonry: 1811 – 2011