A Masonic Treasure

... among the furnishings in the Grand Master’s new office was a replica of the legendary George Washington Desk, that had been recently purchased by the Grand Lodge in honor of the nation’s Bicentennial

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the new republic on April 30, 1789 in front of a vast multitude in the open gallery of the old City Hall in New York. The oath of office was administered by Robert R. Livingston, then Chancellor of the State of New York, and the open bible upon which the President laid his hand was the Masonic Bible borrowed for the ceremony from St. John’s Lodge in New York City.

image029Among the distinguished gentlemen on hand were John Adams, who had been chosen to be Vice President, and George Clinton, Governor of New York. The crimson velvet cushion upon which the Masonic Bible rested was held by Mr. Otis, Secretary of Senate. After taking the oath of office and kissing the sacred book, Washington closed his eyes and said, in true Masonic tradition, So Help Me God!" Chancellor Livingston then exclaimed, "It is done," and then turning to the people he shouted, "Long live George Washington, the first President of the United States." The first Presidential mansion was in New York and was provided for Washington by Congress. Among the furnishings of the first Presidential office was a fine writing desk, in what is now called the Sheraton style, which embodies simplicity of outline, carefully considered proportions and sparing use of classic motif. When the capital was relocated in Philadelphia, the desk remained in New York. Today, the original desk is enshrined in the Governor’s Room, City Hall, New York.

Brother Kenneth W. Jencks, Most Worshipful Past Grand Master, began his term as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island on May 17, 1976 and as the Grand Lodge offices moved from Dorrance Street in Providence to the Scottish Rite Cathedral on Broad Street in Cranston, among the furnishings in the Grand Master’s new office was a replica of the legendary George Washington Desk, that had been recently purchased by the Grand Lodge in honor of the nation’s Bicentennial.

image030The faithful reproduction, beautifully crafted in mahogany was produced by the Kittinger Company of Buffalo, New York. The company was founded in 1866, and from 1937 to 1990 it was the chief furniture reproduction maker for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Today, these vintage reproductions are highly sought after and are considered to be among the finest pieces of furniture produced in America in the 20th Century. In fact, a number of Kittinger reproductions can still be found in the White House, Washington, DC. The "George Washington Desk" remains the centerpiece of the office of the Grand Master in East Providence?