The Silver Trowel: Witness to the Foundation of American Democracy

On September 18, 1793, Illustrious Brother George Washington, Charter Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22, laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol Building in a formal Masonic ceremony. According to the Architect of the Capitol, it was the first large public event held in the new federal city. During the ceremony, Washington employed a fine silver trowel, marble gavel and symbolic working tools crafted by Brother John Duffy, a silversmith of Alexandria, VA and Freemason. The trowel was expertly constructed with an ivory handle and the blade, shank and end cap made of fine silver. At the conclusion of the historic ceremony, Washington presented the trowel – an instrument of immense symbolic importance to every Master Mason – to Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22. The trowel remains the crown jewel of our Lodge’s archive collection to this day.

In the years following the Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony, the brethren of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 have been honored to add to the trowel’s storied history by participating in cornerstone ceremonies for historic buildings and monuments in and around our nation’s capital, including:

  • The Smithsonian Institution (1847)
  • The Washington Monument (1848)
  • Library of Congress (1890)
  • The National Cathedral (1907)
  • The House of the Temple, Scottish Rite (1911)
  • George Washington Masonic National Memorial (1923)
  • United States Supreme Court (1932)

Visitors to the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, home of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 since 1942, can view the trowel on display in the Replica Lodge Room, a recreation of the room used for the 140 years that our Lodge met at Alexandria’s City Hall.

Add a timeless piece of history to your collection:

For the first time in decades, Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 has authorized and commissioned a precise recreation of the trowel, crafted to the same exacting standards of the original, including the hand-engraved inscription on the blade indicating the date and occasion of its first and most historic use. To learn more about this limited edition collector’s item, visit the AW22 Online Store.