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, illuminated 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.
Beginning in 2008, the Gavel became part of an ongoing loan between Potomac Lodge and the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. Today, it can be seen in the Visitors Center Exhibition Hall where it is on display to the public as an important artifact in the history of not only the Capitol building but our Nation as well.