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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

George Washington as Master Mason map_it

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

One of six statues in the city’s parks of the nation’s first president, George Washington (1732-1799), this sculpture by Donald De Lue (1897-1988) has its origins in two earlier projects by the sculptor.

Born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Washington was born into a prosperous family, and was privately educated.  He gained early experience as a land surveyor, and then joined the militia, serving as an officer in the French and Indian Wars from 1755-1758.  Rising to the rank of colonel, he resigned his post, married Martha Dandridge (1731-1802), and returned as a gentleman farmer to the family plantation at Mount Vernon, Virginia, where he resided with his wife, Martha.

He soon reentered public life, and served in succession as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (1759-1774), and as a member of the First and Second Continental Congresses (1774-1775).  Upon the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, Washington was made Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.  His military prowess and inspirational leadership held the colonial armies together against overwhelming odds, and secured the evacuation and defeat of the British in 1783.

Washington again retired to Mount Vernon, but his dissatisfaction with the new provisional government, caused him to resume an active role, and in 1787 he presided over the second federal constitutional convention in Philadelphia.  He was then unanimously chosen first president of the United States, and was inaugurated at Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789.   Washington was reelected to a second term in 1893, declined a third term, and retired from political life in 1797.  Often referred to as “the father of our country,” Washington is universally regarded as having been instrumental in winning the American Revolution and in the establishment of the new nation.

This statue honors George Washington’s close association with the Free and Accepted Masons, a fraternal order founded in 1717, and dedicated to human liberty, religious tolerance, and fellowship.  He was installed as first master of Alexandria Lodge on April 28, 1788.  The first version of this statue was created by De Lue in 1959 for the Louisiana Lodge.  A full-size faux-patined plaster model was displayed at the Masonic Pavilion of the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65 in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. 

Following the fair, the sculptor was commissioned to create this replica in bronze, and with the assistance of former Parks Commissioner and Fair President Robert Moses (1888-1981), a site was selected for permanent placement near the former Masonic Center.  The statue, cast in Italy, and positioned on a pedestal of North Carolina pink granite, was dedicated on June 3, 1967, the same day in which the World’s Fair Corporation returned the park back to the City.  Additional copies of the statue were installed at the Masonic Hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut and at the Detroit Civic Center in Michigan.

In the spring of 1999 the sculpture was repaired and conserved through a city capital contract, as part of the general redesign and renovation of the core area of the park.  The surrounding landscape was upgraded with a circular paving, new lawns and cherry trees evoking the apocryphal childhood tale in which Washington’s honesty was confirmed through his confession of chopping down such a tree.  Today, the restored monument of the man who led the new republic watches over a park patronized each year by diverse users, who embody the freedoms and opportunity for which he fought.

Photo of the George Washington Statue in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens

George Washington as Master Mason Details

  • Sculptor: Donald De Lue
  • Description: Standing figure (over life-size) beside a Masonic altar, and wearing a Masonic medal and apron, gavel in right hand, hat in left, with integral plinth on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze, North Carolina pink granite
  • Dimensions: Figure H: 9'6"
  • Cast: 1967
  • Dedicated: June 3, 1967
  • Donor: Grand Lodge F. & A Masons. State of NY
  • Inscription: [front]
    GEORGE WASHINGTON / FIRST MASTER MASONIC LODGE / ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA 1788 /

    [proper right]
    ORIGINAL MODEL DISPLAYED BY / THE GRAND LODGE OF NEW YORK / AT ITS MASONIC BROTHERHOOD CENTER / NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1964-1965 /

    [back]
    BROTHERHOOD / THE FOUNDATION OF / WORLD PEACE /
    ERECTED BY / THE GRAND LODGE F. & A.M. / STATE OF NEW YORK/ WITH PERMISSION OF THE GRAND LODGE OF LOUISIANA /

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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