Four valuable items of Masonic history are being displayed in the Greater Pittsburgh Masonic Temple during the Annual Grand Communication in the afternoon when James L. Ernette is installed R.W. Grand Master, then at the Pittsburgh Hilton in the evening.
The Holy Bible upon which George Washington took his Constitutional Oath at his inauguration in New York on April 30, 1789, was open in the lodge room during the installation of the Grand Master, then displayed at the Hilton. For President and Brother Washington's inauguration, the Bible had been borrowed from St. John's Lodge No. 1 in New York City. With his right hand on this Bible, he concluded his obligation saying, "So Help Me God!" and bowed to kiss the open Book. It has been at the inauguration of a number of other presidents, including Bush, Carter, Eisenhower, and Harding, and at many other important ceremonies. It is the treasured property of St. John's Lodge and is in Pittsburgh through their courtesy.
The Gavel, used during the installation, is the one used by President Washington in laying the cornerstone for the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 18, 1793. The head is Maryland marble taken from the decoration of the first part of the Capitol. Its handle is a dark native wood of unusual grain. After the cornerstone ceremony, President Washington handed the gavel to the Master of Potomac Lodge No. 9, Maryland (which is now Potomac Lodge No. 5, D.C.). In 1898, it was used in laying the cornerstone of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. It is a prized possession of Potomac Lodge, and is in Pittsburgh through their courtesy.
The Trowel that is on display is a reproduction of the one used by President Washington in laying the cornerstone of the Capitol in 1793. It also was used for laying the cornerstone of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846; the Washington Monument in 1848, the Masonic Temple in Washington in 1907, and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial at Alexandria, VA, in 1923. It is in Pittsburgh through the courtesy of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22, Virginia.
The Masonic Apron displayed is a replica of the historic one worn by President Washington when he laid the cornerstone of the Capitol in Washington. The original is carefully preserved and displayed in the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania in the Masonic Temple, Philadelphia. The original Apron was hand-embroidered by Madam de Lafayette as a gift and presented to Brother Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette.