For many years, the George Washington Gavel was stored in a private
residence or in the Lodge Hall. In 1922, due to the long and friendly
association between the Lodge and the Farmers and Mechanics National
Bank (subsequently a part of the Riggs National Bank and now a branch
of PNC Bank), the bank officials suggested that the Gavel be placed in a
specially constructed box of their deposit vault for safe keeping.
The vault box proposed by the bank was to be constructed with a glass
door, illumniated by electric light, and centrally located in the
vault so that visitors to the bank would be able to view the Gavel when
the vault was open. The construction of such a safe deposit box was
unique at its time, and the Lodge remains unaware of any other glass-faced
secuirty deposit box in any other bank.
The offer was gratefully accepted by the Lodge, and on 18 December 1922
the Gavel was moved to its new depository. The benefits of this new
arrangement between the Lodge and Riggs National Bank were called into
sharp relief on 7 July 1963 when the Lodge Hall, then across the street
from the bank at 1210 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., burned to the ground
and most of the Lodge's records and artifacts were destroyed.
It is noteworthy that on 26 July 1827 William Wilson Corcoran was raised
a Master Mason in Potomac Lodge. Brother Corcoran was a prosperous
Georgetown merchant; in addition to endowing the art gallery which bears
his name at 17th and New York Avenue NW, he was also a co-founder of
Riggs and Company, which later became Riggs National Bank. There is little
doubt that his influence assisted in the creation of the Gavel's current home.
The Gavel's storage at Riggs was also a boon to the bank, who used it
in various advertising materials such as the video shown below, which
was a television ad dating from the 1950's.
Although the Gavel's primary depository remains at the Farmer's and
Mechanics Branch of PNC Bank, it is currently on loan to the National Capitol
Visitors Center, where it is on display as an important part of the
history of the Capitol building.