Sunday, September 14, 2008

Appearances of Power

Ruminations Following
The Committee of 100’s December 12, 2005 Christmas Party

I attended a Christmas party they held, Monday December 12, 2005, that was open to the public. Despite receiving no reply to my requests regarding the Nationals Stadium/South Capitol Mall conflict, I received a timely response about this party from Committee of 100’s Barbara Zartman.

Here, I informed the Committee of 100 members by handing out notices about my web site “The Future of South Capitol Street”

Illustration: Barbara Zartman, Perry Belmont mansion

This party was held at a Beaux Arts mansion located in a well to do area on a triangle of land along New Hampshire Avenue a few blocks northeast of DuPont Circle
The Perry Belmont Mansion is one of Washington’s finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture. Designed by French architect Eugene Sanson [started in 1906] and completed in 1909, the house remains today much as it was when originally constructed and still contains many of the Belmonts furniture and objects d’art. Mr. Belmont was the grandson of Commodore Perry who negotiated the 1854 Treaty of Amity, which opened the ports of Japan for commerce. During the sixteen years that Jessie and Perry Belmont, who had served as US Ambassador to Spain, occupied the house, dignitaries from around the world were entertained there. The landmarked house was purchased in 1935 by the Order of the Eastern Star for use as its international headquarters. It serves also as the private residence of the Right Worthy Grand Secretary. The Order’s careful stewardship provides Washington with a remarkable example of its built heritage.

Formerly the Perry Belmont Mansion, it was started in 1906 and completed in 1909, at the then-extravagant cost $1.5 million. Perry and Jessie Belmont built the mansion for the specific purpose of entertaining not only notables of Washington, but also dignitaries from all over the world. The building was only used during the Washington party season (about two months each year) and special events. It was designed by Eugene Sanson, a famous French architect who had designed many grand homes and chateaus in Europe. He was renowned for his use of light and space, and for his beautiful staircases. Long before the acquisition of the building by the General Grand Chapter in 1935, it was a site of elegance, gracious and grand hospitality, of distinguished diplomats, world-renowned guests and romance.

The Belmonts entertained lavishly and had a staff of approximately 34 servants. They used the house from 1909 to 1925. It was then closed and put on the market for sale with the stipulation that it could not be altered for 20 years after purchase. The mansion stood empty and unused until 1935, when the General Grand Chapter purchased it. Mr. Belmont, being a Mason and happy to be selling it to someone who would take care of it, sold it to The General Grand Chapter for $100,000. As part of our agreement with Mr. Belmont, The General Grand Chapter law states the Right Worthy Grand Secretary must live in the Temple. So the building is still a working private residence as well as our headquarters. Many furnishings, including several Tiffany vases, 37 oil paintings, Louis the 14th and 15th furniture, china and oriental rugs were included with the purchase of the Temple and are still on display for our members and their guests to enjoy on tours. Chandeliers throughout are gold gilt and hung with hand-carved rock crystal drops – some with amethyst as well. There are eleven fireplaces, most with hand-carved marble mantles. All the marble in the house was brought from Italy, all the wood from Germany and all the metal fixtures from France.

That mansion, and Temple, is the Washington, D.C. International Headquarters of the Order of the Eastern Star: an organization of female relatives of Masons, and is adorned in three places with lit images of a Masonic pentagram – 5 pointed with 2 top points and 1 bottom point akin to that largely formed by the L’Enfant street grid near and north of the White House -- framed with the letters A L F A T. Note that a pentagram is identical in shape to the five-pointed star that is seen on numerous flags; it is called a pentagram because of its orientation.

The Order of the Eastern Star

This raised my eyebrows. Inside in the lobby, I would ask: “this sounds like secret societies” and receive the response: “no, rather societies with secrets.” OK. We will probably not know what’s being said inside, as true with inside about anything else; but the Order’s name and its pentagrams are clearly on display outside.

Rather, the secret is where and how any group extends its influence in the world secretively, seen but unseen. This location for the Committee of 100’s Christmas party suggests some connection or connections between the Committee of 100 and temporally organized (institutional) speculative Masonry. It’s unknown to this blogger if membership in such organized Masonry is mandatory for membership within the Committee of 100, or the extent or any details of any such connections and/or influence. It could suggest that the Committee of 100 is controlled by temporally organized speculative Masonry. In any event, since this is an order of wives and daughters of such Masons, it may be that this includes wives and daughters of such Masons who are members of the Committee of 100.

Inside, and upstairs around a buffet table, I was able to distribute copies of the home page of my South Capitol Street web site with its table of contents beneath the pair of stamps created to “commemorate” the radical changes to the South Capitol gateway planning at

Illustration: un-official 'commemoration'
of official South Capitol Street Gateway planning: 1997-2005

There, within this mansion of marble, around a table filled with good food and alcohol, I met a cross section of relatively tight lipped people seeming constrained by some invisible force. None of the above dozens of Committee of 100 members that I met at this Christmas party mentioned the Committee of 100’s opposition to Extending the Legacy, such as the 1996 letter to President Clinton.

It was as if these people knew that the Committee of 100 took a position that they were ashamed of. And from what I have a feeling, was a position achieved not through open discussion or spontaneous acclamation.

Nor is it a position touted on their web site. I have yet to find even a mention.

Perhaps this was some Committee of 100 rule against members discussing certain things publicly?

Or perhaps some other force, perhaps responsible for the general lack of public discussion and debate.

Perhaps that was something akin to at least 2 out of the three following things about the elections to the Order of the Eastern Star, written by Jessie M. Ayers, a Past Grand Worthy Matron, and a member of Miriam Chapter No. 4, Order of the Eastern Star, Georgiana Thomas Grand Chapter, Jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, who served as Grand Worthy matron in 1989, and was Grand Historian of the Georgiana Thomas Grand Chapter from 1971-1991:

Election to the degrees must be unanimous, without debate, and secret. [emphasis added]

Such reminds me a bit of experiences in our representative democracy, such as this with the Alexandria City Council and this at the U.S. National Capital Planning Commission with the sell out of the Washington Street Urban Deck.

Illustration: Masonic Tower- highest structure in Alexandria, Virginia

Washington, D.C.’s Union Station

To me, disappointment in official planning is symbolized with the dividing line at the rear of Washington, D.C.’s Union Station.

In front it is beautiful. To the rear it is ugly and divisive.

Why must that remain so?

Why not spread the monumental core beauty to do something about those open railyards?

Frederic Delano’s organizations were ostensibly set up to advance the monumental planning of Washington DC. for reasons readily apparent.

Though embarking upon that within and beyond the scope of the McMillan Commission, within with the Jefferson Memorial and beyond with the East Capitol Mall, these organizations would arguably assume another role: not that of extending the legacy, but rather truncating it for reasons other than those publicized. Both the East Capitol Mall – proposed from the late 1920s until the late 1950s or early 1960s -- and the concurrent era highway plans would be aborted to save residential neighborhoods- as testified by the still existing neighborhoods preserved between Constitution and Independence Avenues east of the Capitol, or along the routes of the un-built 1955 route for the Inner Loop. Yet these organizations would also reverse course when these reasons were not present, resting upon history telling that would be purposely vague history- much like the "reporting" on Extending the Legacy .

Building the Jefferson Memorial would effectively complete the City Beautiful of the McMillan Commission planning, while new Malls along East and South Capitol would extend it.

Not building the East Capitol Mall would preserve neighborhoods of 1000s of dwellings.

Not building the South Capitol Mall would serve to preserve a single building along South Capitol Street- the St Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic at the intersection with M Street. It would also dubiously “preserve” neighborhoods nearby those nearby which are nonetheless shown removed and replaced with denser development.

Highway planning greatly reduced impacts over the years, thereby minimizing neighborhood savings while sacrificing their potential traffic effectiveness for a funds transfer to sped WMATA construction by a few months, with no compensation of increased capacity- e.g. 4 track rather then only 2 track segments, since the WMATA system was planned to coexist with the freeways.

Neighborhood preservation was served in DC by replacing the 1959 plan with the 1962 plan, and the 1965 and later plans for the cross town I-66 K Street Tunnel.

Neighborhood preservation was not necessarily served in Bethesda MD with canceling the NW freeway given that most of downtown Bethesda was torn down and replaced with denser transit oriented development.

By 1971, the freeway system design reduced displacement from perhaps 20,000 to roughly 1,100, mainly for the segment connecting the Center Leg/ 3rd Street Tunnel (600+), plus 172 for the northern segment of the East Leg, and 148 for the westerly connection to the K Street Tunnel. (As I see it, the 600+ figure is reducible to roughly 34 with superior geometry). For the North Central Freeway, this was a drop from 2,300-4,000 of the 1963-64 study, to 59 for the I-95 PEPCO route considered in 1971 and 1973.

The popularization of the idea of simply canceling the Washington, D.C. freeway system to further fund WMATA came largely in response to the planning that came after the effective cancellation of the Northwest Freeway.




The Kennedy Administration’s basic concept was of a B&O “Y” route North Central – Northeast Freeway employing DC’s sole northern radial industrial transportation corridor conveniently located about midway between the Potomac River and Maryland’s eastern Beltway, as a replacement for the 3 separate freeways of the 1959 plan; Kennedy's plan was politically undermined by a planning report released October 1964 with NCF routes on an upwards of 37 possible alignments, NONE tightly along the railroad as the Kennedy Administration prescribed; instead a “recommended route” -- #11 “Railroad East- Sligo – with its longer less direct deviation through TP MD destroying 471 houses, would poison public sentiment, and despite the subsequent 1966 report for B&O low level route, was continually brought up as being officially preferred by government officials until the late 1960s as cheaper. Such actions fueled such strictly anti freeway attitudes popularizing the idea of cancelling the highway in order to transfer their funds to mass transit projects, neglecting that the 1960s planning included both freeways and the WMATA rail system, that the officially proposed freeway system underwent significant design to reduce impacts- most significantly with cross town I-66 replacing the open trench and elevated along Florida Avenues and between U and T Streets with the K Street Tunnel espoused by NCPC’s Elizabeth Rowe before opposing it and all the other un-built proposed freeways following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo with a perspective strictly equating auto use with petro use, leading to the abandonment of the private auto by the 1990s.

Ignoring design changes in favor of emotional pitches became sufficiently dominant to get people within Washington, D.C. to allow their freeway funds to be transferred for mass transit segments outside the District and beyond the Beltway while becoming so excited about “transit” to thus not ask why the WMATA Red line through a full tunnel in NW, would be built with only a few hundred feet of such, being built relatively cheaply by being on the surface or elevated upon a berm, maintaining and expanding the existing railroad – established cir. 1863 – with no talk of lowering this railroad and covering at least some portions, nor even finishing this railroad’s concrete wall – required by this transit line’s added width to the railroad – in the Takoma DC area. This sort of distraction would apparently surface to have rewarded the local activists with a lack of any formal guarantee for the green space preservation at the Takoma WMATA station, with apparently no one objecting to the Committee of 100’s transfer of DC freeway funds away rather then to additional transit capacity such as more 4 track segments.

This strict mentality here results in a Washington, D.C. with no grade separated vehicular highway connection from the general north within the entire Capital Beltway axis from Route 50 at 3 o’clock, counter clock wise and into Virginia to the GW Parkway and to I-66 at 9 o’clock, neither allowing trucks, which are allowed on I-395 at 7 o’clock. This shifts traffic to the SE Maryland portion of the Capital Beltway, including its Woodrow Wilson Bridge crossing of the Potomac River. It likewise shifts traffic to I-295 through the least affluent areas of D.C., eventually running alongside the Anacostia River. It leaves NE bisected by a significant surface railway.Not building the “Y” route North Central Freeway undermines national security.

In conjunction with the lagging interest of the planning organizations at covering the Anacostia Freeway, it serves as a textbook example of environmental racism.

Indeed, such is so with the 2 radials of the WMATA Red Line, with its NW segment fully tunneled, and with its NE segment upon a surface railroad.

With both the Committee of 100 and the USNCPC were touted as advancing the classical planning of the L’Enfant and McMillan commission planning, what thus compelled the Committee of 100 to abandon its support of reasonable highway design concepts for greatly minimizing footprint needs, such as building inside the Beltway Virginia I-66 via the existing Rote 50 corridor rebuild to full freeway specifications, and building the DC Center Leg via cut and cover tunnels beneath 2nd and 3rd Streets, in favor of schemes to have all vehicular traffic pass by residential driveways by making do with the surface streets (wasting times and increasing vehicular-pedestrian conflicts yet passed off as being pedestrian friendly), such as what NCPC did in 1968 with its outright cancellation of the NC/NE Freeway.

Interstate Traffic from the North

With respect to interstate traffic moving into the metropolitan area from the north on I-70S and I-95, vehicles with destinations beyond the District clearly should be diverted around the beltway. Interstate traffic with destinations within the District has options that are obviously as satisfactory as such traffic finds in any metropolitan system. The interstate system -- as a city to city system -- gives no assurance of freeway access to the heart of the central city. Both I-70S and I-95 traffic can move down the same arterial street network used by the commuters, and presumably a large part of this interstate traffic will be at non-peak hours.

I-95 traffic can be channeled over a short jog on the beltway to the Baltimore Washington Parkway for a penetration into the District over that route. Three options would be provided for this interstate traffic with downtown destinations -- via Kenilworth Freeway, via the proposed new Anacostia Parkway, and via New York Avenue (which is being improved as a major entrance into the Nation's capital from the east). Additional capacities to handle this I-95 traffic, of course, will of course be needed on the beltway and the Baltimore Washington Parkway. (An alternative would be a new highway in Maryland that would bring I-95 directly into the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at or near the Kenilworth interchange.)

The Commission believes that these facilities can adequately provide for interstate traffic from the north with central area destinations. The construction of a freeway to the north (in addition to the string of major surface streets) in order to accommodate interstate traffic would simply open up another arterial gateway for the suburban commuter. This the Commission rejects as both unnecessary and undesirable. (pp. 31-32)

It certainly served a more emotional rather then logical agenda, as a useful distraction from growing budgets for war, and does so continually the ECTC morphed into a NCTC which held national conferences on the problems of urban freeways and automobiles in general 1969-1973, disbanding with Maryland’s July 16, 1973 cancellation of the PEPCO I-95 connector effectively ending anticipation of a B&O route within D.C., as if the oil crisis was meaningless for a group set up with an expanded mission. Hence, the politics of D.C.’s freeways serves matters have little or nothing to do with those included in slogans.

And it ensures that no highway would not only through Archibold-Glover Park alongside Georgetown University, or pointing at at with a Three Sisters Bridge, but that they would not go anywhere near Catholic University of America, nor near or through the property of the Order of the Eastern Star home on New Hampshire Avenue just northeast of the B&O railroad near the Maryland line.

The I-395 Center Leg would be truncated alongside Georgetown University Law Center.

Washington, D.C. Freeway System: 1970s

Illustration: From Scott Kozel's

Illustrations: I-95 routes

Washington, D.C. remains divided by surface rail- interest lags in covering railroad, though sometimes proposed for are near and south of Michigan Avenue idea was only considered for area to north alongside CUA in the 1966 NCF supplementary study, disappearing from the 1971 plan.

That something is powerful enough to pull the strings with regards to Extending the Legacy is evident not only with how the South Mall was unreported through consistent widespread mis-wording -- always a boulevard or gateway but not explicitly a greenway-- but also with the disappearance of another one of its projected extensions of the legacy with a depressing and coving of the rail yards emanating northward from behind Union Station; according to Richard Layman, this idea was promoted by NCPC consultant Tony Simon, AICP; it would be pulled.

Who ordered its removal?

Apparently someone at the top of the pyramid detests the shape of a comet poised at the “head” of the entity represented by the street grid?

It does appear that they will cover the area with buildings- whatever it takes to mute the monumental thrust of the Union Station - Grand Arc axis.

Considering the St Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church’s influence and the dynamics of the South Capitol Mall’s across the board non-reporting, I wonder about this plausible Vatican-Masonic alliance at play in this drama, with a Committee of 100 controlled/constrained by some entity of organized Masonry, which in turn is controlled by some entity from the Roman Catholic Church?

At South Capitol and M Streets SE

They are linked- explaining alliance dynamics of a St. Vincent de Paul Church that effectively blocked the South Capitol Mall as a Roman Catholic Church, being conceivably defended at all costs not only by the archdiocese of Washington and the Vatican, but also Masonry regarding any decisions as to its future.

Both are undeniably long involved in the planning of Washington, D.C., marked by such writings as “Rulers of Evil” by Tupper Saussy, and “The Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, D.C.", by David Ovason

Both are undeniably sufficiently big to pull this off, as something big influenced the media coverage, ordering its reporting to avoid words as greenway, linear park, promenade or mall, but rather boulevard, and with the stadium, pushed through via the Jesuit connected head of D.C.’s Sports and Entertainment Commission with that law firm since 1981 located at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, Covington and Burling.

Given the Masonic order’s various uses of the compass and square – architectural tools – one can reasonably ask what can be said that has been mainly left unsaid about Masonic order influence in Washington D.C. and area planning today? It’s established that those belonging to Masonic orders have contributed significantly with the planning, most notably George Washington, and U.S. Senator McMillan who gave his name to the McMillan Commission, which extended the National Mall westward past the Washington Monument via new landfill for 500 feet giving us the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

So what about the “Committee of 100 on the Federal City” a private organization, along with the U.S. National Capitol Planning Commission?

Both were founded by Frederic A. Delano, member of the first board of the Federal Reserve, uncle to 32nd U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and brother in law (by being married to sisters from the same family) to Ed Burling, a Chicago railroad industry firm, who came to Washington, D.C. to join Georgetown Law professor, ex- U.S. Congressman Frank Harry Covington, to found Covington & Burling.

Of this Frederic Delano family, these three entities have played their significant role in the planning of Washington, D.C., both individually and in concert- the latter marked by numerous appearances of an alliance including the two private entities: the Committee of 100 and Covington & Burling, and often including the Jesuit Order run Georgetown University Law Center (Law School).

Was perhaps the South Capitol Mall an issue discussed here with C. Fred Kleinknecht’s meeting with the Vatican?

“Similarly, Fred took unprecedented steps to heal misunderstandings between Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church. Through personal conferences with high Vatican officials in Rome and in Washington, he set the cornerstone for building cordial relations between the two great institutions."

C. Fred Kleinknecht was Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S. for 18 years; he retired in 2003. A book "Valley of the Craftsman" about Masons, including the time of Kleinknecht's service, has a chapter titled PILLARS OF CHARITY 243 Extending the Legacy 1985-2001.

NCPC 2001 "Memorials and Museums"

2001 was the year of the final appearance in an U.S. NCPC publication of the full South Capitol Mall concept that had been championed by the 1990s "Extending the Legacy"program.

Cover: U.S. NCPC's 1997
"Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century"
with un-named South Capitol Mall

Extending the Legacy South Capitol Mall
Angled Roadways

What they are doing instead

Rather then move this church 250 feet east

Relocated St Vincent de Paul Church next to South Capitol Mall

Washington, D.C.'s oldest Jewish Synagogue moved several blocks in 1969 to accommodate WMATA subway construction
and placed next to I-395

NCPC 2001 "Memorials and Museums"
close up
showing church like building suggestive of the idea of a few hundred foot relocation of St Vincent de Paul Church

Alas the Roman Catholic Church is nowhere near as civic-minded.

Kleinknecht wrote the forward to David Ovason's The Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, D.C.

“As above, so below.” These words, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, lie at the heart of the Western esoteric tradition. In brief, they mean that the universe and all it contains is reflected in some manner not only on Earth, but also in man ad his works. The chief quest of all ages has been man’s attempt to understand the mystery of existence and to find his place in it. He keenly observed the movement of the stars, as we read in Genesis 1:14, “for signs, and for seasons.” Not only have the stars guided the traveler on the earth and seas, but their constellations are archetypes that have been viewed as guides for the lives of men and nations.

In this fascinating and well-researched book, David Ovason presents the remarkable thesis that Washington, D.C., is a city of the stars. He demonstrates that there are over 30 zodiacs in the city, and that the majority of them are orientated in a meaningful way. Even more astonishing is to learn that these zodiacs were designed to point to the actual heavens- this marrying the Capital City with the stars. This discovery parallels the recent finding in Egypt that the three Great Pyramids correspond with the three stars in Orion’s belt, while the Nile River occupies the same relative position as the Milky Way. [emphasis added] It is still debated whether this was intentional, yet the correlation is undeniable. Similarly, the assignment, position and meaning of Washington, D.C.’s zodiacs bespeak a relationship between heaven and earth.

Recent scholarship, such as Steven C. Bullock’s Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), demonstrates the undeniable influence Freemasonry exerted on the American system of government and lifestyle. Aware of these influences, David Ovalson discovered what may be Masonic influences in the architecture and the layout of the city. He does not assert that all of his correspondences or discovered secrets were laid down by Masons, but there is some support for his argument in documents preserved by Masons, but there is support for his arguments preserved in the Achieves and Library of the Supreme Council, 33rd degree, Southern Jurisdiction. As in other Scottish Rite Blue Lodge (“Symbolic” or “Craft”) rituals, Albert Pike’s Book of the Lodge contains recommendations for decorating the lodge ceilings with constellations and planets. The star map, which is painted on the ceiling, is replete with Masonic symbolism that was influenced by French designs in the early 19th century.

The astonishing thing is that Pike’s ceiling design reflects precisely the same mysteries observed by David Ovason in this book. These mysteries relate to the constellation Virgo. Pike’s map is entirely schematic- which is to say that it does not reflect the actual position of the stars in the heavens. (Leo could in no way be represented as following Ursa Majoris, for example). Even so, Pike is very clear in allocating his symbolic placing of planets and stars. For example he places the full Moon between the constellations Scorpio and Virgo. This means that the full Moon between the constellations Libra, and the star Spica is just above the lunar crescent.

What does that mean to us? The star Spica happens to be the one that David Ovalson has shown to be the symbolically linked with both Washington, D.C. and the United States as a whole. As the reader will learn, Ovason also suggests that this star may be the origin of the five-pointed star that adorns the American flag. He also suggests that Spica may have been the origin of the Blazing (or Flaming) Star of Freemasonry.

Certainly, it would be far fetched to draw too many conclusions for a schematic map, but it is evident that Pike visualized his star map as marking the setting of Virgi, along with the constellation of Bootes, to the north. This is precisely the cosmic setting that David Ovason suggests represents the secret star plan of Washington, D.C.. While Pike engineered a schematic time for his star map, Ovalson shows that it relates to a number of days centering upon August 10 of each year. The significance of this and other “mysteries” is fully explored in this work. In view of the meanings that may be traced in Albert Pike’s map, we can only wonder if he observed the same correspondences of the city, noted by Ovalson, yet for reasons of his own never divulged them.

In any case, David Ovason presents us with a fascinating work that will be sure to captivate and entertain readers interested in architecture, esotericism, Freemasonry, and our nation’s capital. His thesis may be controversial, but it is well thought out and presented.

Ovason says some interesting things about the constellation map with regards to the celestial triangle of the Capitol, the White Hose and the Washington Monument, and hence, the Federal Triangle:

The interesting thing is that this stellar triangle was evidently intended to remain invisible. It is a stellar figure that we know is there, yet which remains hidden from our sight. Below on the earth, its equivalent form, the Federal Triangle, is plainly visible, with Pennsylvania Avenue as its longest side. Since the Constitution Avenue line of the Federal Triangle represents the ecliptic, the implication is that Pennsylvania Avenue was intended by L’Enfant and Ellicott as a sacred route, with its celestial equivalent as invisible pathway in the skies.

Perhaps it is clear now why the symbol makers and architects of Washington, D.C. concentrated their efforts on zodiacal symbols which reflect so deeply the arcane nature of the stellar Virgin? Perhaps it is clear now why the idea of an earthly triangle – encapsulated in the phrase Federal Triangle – should reflect this stellar form on the earth plane?

From the very beginning, the city was intended to celebrate the mystery of Virgo – of the Egyptian Isis, the Grecian Ceres and the Christian Virgin. This truth – and this truth alone – explains the structure of the city, and the enormous power of its stellar symbolism. Washington, D.C., is far more then a city of zodiacs – it’s a city which was built to celebrate a massive cosmic symbolism, expressed in stars. Its the main buildings – Capitol, White House and Washington Monument – mark on the Earth the annual renewal of that magical pyrotechnic display in the skys, which occurs on the days around August 10. (page 344)

From whatever direction one approaches the history of Washington, D.C., the processional avenue of L’Enfant seems always to find its way into the story, and the tale is usually linked with Masons. If we glance at the history of the capital from the viewpoint of, say, sculpture, we find a seamless fabric which joins together generations of artists through almost two centuries. And, this is a fabric woven in the vicinity of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Today, the Old Post Office is set back from Pennsylvania Avenue, oriented to the squares drawn on the original map along D Street, as though some planner had forgotten about what L’Enfant had indicated on his map. Across the road is the beaux arts building that once housed the most influential newspapers in the city, the Washington Evening Star, its fa├žade still looking down onto the statute of Benjamin Franklin, who occupies the triangular-shaped declivity in Pennsylvania Avenue. It is entirely fitting that this building, so intimately linked with a setting star, should look onto one of the most influential of early American Masons, one who had knowledge of the stars and was a keen astronomer. The sculpture, commissioned of Jacques Jouvenal as a gift to the city by the newspaper proprietor Stilson Hutchins, was designed to look onto Pennsylvania Avenue from 10th Street [note. It sits on the south-eastern corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street], because in those days the avenue was flanked by printers and newspapers: within a stones throw was the largest litho printer in the United States. Now the printers and newspaper have fled in the wake of threatened and actual development, leaving Franklin, displaced from his original symbolism, raising his right hand as though astonished in their disappearance. Nonetheless, there seems to be a destiny even in accidents, and this placing of a Mason on one side, and a building named after an evening star, is propitious.

The Evening Star departed its famous building in 1955, leaving only its stellar name in metallic and lapidary inscriptions overlooking the Pennsylvania frontage. The reception hall of the newspaper has been revamped in modern times, but it is possible that a meaningful symbolism has survived from earlier days. In its marble floor is a huge sunburst, or starburst pattern. The five splendid radiants throw their beams out toward this magical avenue, as though he were part of the profound secret of Washington, D.C. [emphasis added] (pp 311-312)

Does the state of Franklin, on its pedestal below the campanile, hold up its hand in amazement of this solar wonder? (page 344)

This is the same Benjamin Franklin statute that faces diagonally across the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 12th Street NW to the Covington & Burling building at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Ovason discusses The Evening Star building that sits to Ben’s right (3’o clock); but he altogether ignores the identity of that which he faces.

If one were to draw a line from the door of the lobby of The Evening Star to this Franklin statute, its mirror line goes towards the northeast rear corner of this Covington & Burling building. His upheld hand points into this building, as do his eyes.

From my perspective of being perhaps the only person writing about the betrayal of the South Capitol Mall, this juxtaposition is quite ironic, given the Covington & Burling law firm’s role in the Nationals stadium deal since at least as early as 2002, on behalf of Major League Baseball in negotiations with lawyers representing the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and its Chairman, Mark Touhey.

Definitely buy and read “The Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington, D.C.

Video of intersection from Save the Capital City