The United States Capitol
One of the world's best-known buildings, The
United States Capitol, at Washington, D.C., was the creation of a succession
of architects who were almost all Freemasons. Originally designed by
William Thornton (1759-1828), the work was completed by Brother Benjamin
Latrobe (a pupil of the English architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell, 1754-1827)
who also redesigned it after the War of 1812. The flanking wings and the
great dome were added later by Brother Thomas Ustick Walter.
The cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol
Building was laid with Masonic Honors on September 18, 1793 under the auspices
of the Grand Lodge of Maryland. At the ceremony, President George Washington
presided. Worshipful Brother Washington was assisted by R.W. Bro. Joseph
Clarke, Grand Master pro. tem. of Maryland, Wor. Elisha C. Dick,
Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia (Washington's home Lodge) and
Wor. Valentine Reintzel, Master of Lodge No. 9 of Maryland (now Potomac Lodge
No. 5 of the District of Colombia).
Benjamin H. Latrobe
(1764-1820) Sometimes called the "father of architecture in
America." b. May 1, 1764 in Yorkshire, England. Educated in the
University of Leipsic and entered the Prussian army; was twice wounded.
He returned to England, and, in 1789, was made surveyor of the public offices
and engineer of London. He arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on May 20, 1796,
and soon became an engineer of the James River and Appomattox Canal, building
the penitentiary in Richmond, and many private mansions. He moved to
Philadelphia in 1798, where he designed the Bank of Pennsylvania, Bank of the
United States, and planned and installed the first water system in the United
States. In Baltimore he was the architect of the Roman Catholic
cathedral, and customs house. Jefferson appointed him surveyor of public
buildings in 1802. He designed the south wing of the U.S. Capitol, made
alterations in the White House, remodeled the patent office, and drew plans
for the Marine Hospital. He also worked on the plans for the Chesapeake
and Delaware Canal, residing alternately in New Castle and Wilmington until
1808, when he moved to Washington. In 1812 he went into partnership with
Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston, to build steamboats for the navigation
of the Upper Ohio River, but lost his fortune on the failure of the
enterprise. After the destruction of the Capitol by the British in 1814,
Latrobe was engaged to rebuild it (1815-1817). At the time of his death
on September 3rd, 1820 he was engaged in the construction of a water system
for New Orleans, La. He was initiated in the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2,
London, in 1788. He served as Junior Warden of the same in 1789-90.
In America he affiliated with Jerusalem Lodge No. 54, Richmond, Virginia.
Thomas U. Walter
(1804-1887) Was the architect of the U.S. Capitol
extension of 1851-65. He was born September 4th, 1804 in Philadelphia.
Served his apprenticeship under William Strickland, the architect of the U.S.
Mint, Philadelphia. He began his practice as an architect in 1830.
While in Washington, D.C. he also designed the extensions of the patent
office, treasury, post office buildings, the dome on the old capitol, the
congressional library, and the government hospital for the insane. He
was an original member of the American Institute of Architects and was
president of the same at the time of his death on October 30, 1887. He
was a member of Colombia Lodge No. 91, Philadelphia, Pa.