BY HANNAH SCHWEFEL
The White House was built in 1792 by a group of Freemasons who happened to be very influential leaders in the United States. On Oct.13, the first corner of the White House was laid, speeches were given and meals were had. Many people came from all over to see the beginnings of the president’s new home.
After the foundation was laid, a brass plate was placed on the cornerstone. There are many rumors surrounding the cornerstone in general. Today, many wonder what happened to the original cornerstone, what it looked like and what was really on the cornerstone’s plate.
The cornerstone is one of the building’s most important pieces. It can be assumed that the piece was quite large in size and also very heavy, as it was made out of Aquia sandstone from Virginia. Some say that the stone was inscribed by the founding fathers, while others believe there was a plate on top with the date it was established and by whom. In the past, the first piece of a building was hollowed out in order to serve as some sort of time capsule. One has to wonder if the White House was an exception to this rule or not, and if not, what was held within the stone? Many rumors suggest that there are important documents stored inside.
So, where is the cornerstone, if it has not been seen in over 200 years? Masons made the construction plans for the building, which led many to believe that the cornerstone would be located in the northeast, as it was a common masonic tradition. In 1946, a letter was found which explained who spoke the day the stone was laid and uncovered the fact that the first stone was actually laid in the southwest corner of the building. This was a great discovery but did not lead to finding the stone.
Many presidents have attempted to find the stone. The first was Teddy Roosevelt, whose searches were unsuccessful. Later, Truman sent a bomb detective down into the basement of the White House to do some searching. The detector did not find much other than a slight sign that there may be a metal plate somewhere between the stones, but they were never given permission to drill holes into the stone as it was still in good shape at the time of the 1948 remodeling.
The Masons seem to take the biggest blame for taking the cornerstone. They were in fact in charge of laying the stones, so they would be more likely to take it. Freemasonry is a society of secrets, which has included many important people, including signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, not to mention numerous presidents. But one has to wonder what would possess the Masons to steal the stone? Upon reaction to the blame, the Masons deny taking the stone. The mystery of the White House’s cornerstone remains just that: a mystery.