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Finding the Lost Symbols in Washington, D.C.
The House of the Temple
Dan Brown opens The Lost Symbol in the Temple Room of the House of the Temple, with Dr. Christopher Abaddon being raised to a 33rd-degree Mason, and returns there for its denouement.
Located at 1733 Sixteenth Street, N.W. (Sixteenth Street is referred to as "The Corridor of Light" by Masons), the House of the Temple is headquarters for the Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America. (Yes, there is also a Northern Jurisdiction, which has its headquarters at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.)
Visitors (both Masons and non-Masons) are welcome and tours are conducted on the hour or half hour. The hours of operat ion are in flux owing to the Dan Brown effect, so it's best to call before visiting: (202) 232-3579. Photography is permitted and encouraged.
The name "House of the Temple" refers to the Temple of Solomon, the building that is central to Masonic ritual and symbolism.
The cornerstone for the House of the Temple was laid in 1911 and the building was completed in 1915. It is modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnasses, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.
John Russell Pope was the architect for the House of the Temple. He subsequently designed the Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art.
A visitor must pass between two massive sphinxes to enter the front door,one with its eyes open (perhaps representing thought, perception or engagement with the outer world) and one with its eyes closed (perhaps suggesting meditation, contemplation or "soul-building"). Thirty-three columns each thirty-three feet high surround the building. And there are thirty-three seats in the Temple Room.
The roof of the House of the Temple is an "unfinished" pyramid, consisting of thirteen steps. Although difficult to see from the street, visitors to Washington, D.C., can view this pyramid "floating in the air" looking south from Meridian Hill Park in the foreground of the Washington Monument.
The First Inauguration of George Washington, April 30, 1787 by John D. Melius
This painting and its companion, George Washington Laying the Cornerstone of the United States Capitol, September 18, 1793, both reside in the George Washington Memorial Banquet Hall of the House of the Temple.
The building in the background is Federal Hall, in New York City. After swearing the oath of office, President Washington famously kissed the Holy Bible, which was on loan from the St. John's Lodge, also located in New York.
The historical figures participating in the ceremony include quite a few prominent Freemasons. The twelve men depicted are, left to right:
1. Frederick William von Steuben, a Mason, was an army officer and aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great of Prussia. Von Steuben became a Major General during the Revolution and was known as the "drill master of the Continental Army."
2. John Jay, right and in the foreground, then Secretary of State, later became a Supreme Court Justice.
3. John Adams was the first Vice President and became the second President of the United States.
4. Henry Lee, a Mason, was known as "Light Horse Harry Lee" because of his brilliant cavalry operations in the Revolutionary War. He was also the father of General Robert E. Lee.
5. Robert R. Livingston, a Mason, was Chancellor of the State of New York and Grand Master of New York Masons from 1784 to 1800. He is to Lee's right, by the railing.
6. Samuel Otis, Secretary of the Senate, holds the Bible from St. John's Lodge No. 1, New York City.
7. George Washington, a Mason, stands with his right hand placed on the Bible.
8. Morgan Lewis, a Mason, was Grand Marshall during this ceremony and later became a Major General in the War of 1812. He was elected Grand Master of New York Masons in 1830.
9. Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, a Mason, appears in a gold-colored coat. Born in Pennsylvania, he was educated in Germany as a Lutheran clergyman and was the elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.
10. Arthur St. Clair, a Mason, is dressed in military uniform. He was born in Scotland and came to America with the British Army in 1757 only to become a Major General in the Continental Army. At the time of the inauguration, he was the Governor of the Northwest Territory.
11. George Clinton, next to St. Clair, was Governor of New York at the time of the inauguration.
12. Henry Knox, a Mason, was a close adviser to Washington and a Major General and Chief of Artillery in the Revolutionary Army. He is to the far right in the painting and was Secretary of War at the time of Washington's first inauguration.Copyright © 2009 by Sensei Publications, LLC