By George, what’s the first president of the United States doing hanging around the Village by the Sea?
A copy of the famous depiction of George Washington, known as the Lansdowne portrait, has been added to the board room of Langley City Hall. The framed portrait is centered on the back wall between historic photos of a Langley parade and the original Whidbey Telephone Company building.
Last month, the portrait was given to the city by Langley Masonic Lodge 218 in a formal presentation.
Mayor Tim Callison noted that Langley City Hall was once the Langley Masonic Lodge.
“We will find a good place to welcome Brother George Washington,” Callison said.
George Washington is a prominent figure in Masonic history. He joined the Masonic Lodge in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the age 20 in 1752.
The Langley Lodge is involved in a joint effort between the Grand Lodges of Washington and South Carolina to raise funds for certain charities and to keep Washington’s legacy alive, explained Richard Bacigalupi, Master of Langley Lodge.
Freemasonry is often called the world’s first and largest fraternal organization.
The men-only group espouses a system of ethics based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country and fraternity. Lodges are active in charitable and community projects.
“Langley Lodge donated $250 to Washington Masonic Charities in support of the Lansdowne Project,” Bacigalupi said. “In return, we received the portrait and offered it to the City of Langley. Our hope is that George Washington’s legacy be present in public areas on South Whidbey.”
The Masons distribute the portraits to schools and other locations in exchange for a donation toward charities, such as Honor Flight Network, Leadership Development Programs, Washington Masonic Youth Groups and Juvenile Diabetes.
In South Carolina, more than 50 Washington portraits have been donated to public schools and more than $40,000 raised for juvenile diabetes programs, according to the Beaumont County School District.
The original Lansdowne portrait is an iconic life-size portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1796. It depicts a 64-year-old Washington in his last year as president with a dress sword at his side and an outstretched arm.
“We are happy to work with other public agencies, entities or schools in our community that wish a portrait,” Bacigalupi said.
Langley Lodge, the organization, is 101 years old. It’s physical location is a moving target.
The organization’s original lodge is now Spy Hop Public House. Next, it presided in the building that’s now Langley City Hall. After that, the Masons built a lodge, which is now occupied by the Good Cheer Food Bank at Bayview.
These days, lodge members meet every fourth Tuesday of each month at Grigware Hall, Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland.