Benton County Record, Bentonville Arkansas
August 28, 2005
By Eleanor Evans
BENTONVILLE ó The Masons were the keepers of a billion-dollar hidden treasure in the 2004 film "National Treasure."
Masons in Arkansas have kept their eyes on a real national treasure for more than 50 years.
That treasure ó a stone from the original White House ó will be on display at the Bentonville Masonic Temple, 805 N. W. Eighth St., from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The brick has a great amount of history, said local Mason Gan Nunnally. "To look at this, itís just a rock; itís a paperweight," Nunnally said.
But the tale behind it reveals so much more.
The original "Presidentís House," now referred to as The White House, was dedicated by the Masons in a ceremony called "Laying of the Cornerstone" on Nov. 15, 1792, when the first stone was laid in the southwest corner of the house.
It would be 158 years before any other major rebuilding projects were undertaken at the White House.
President Harry Truman ordered the inside of the White House to be gutted and replaced with a new interior structure.
During the process, 102 stones were discovered that had the mark of a freemason.
Truman, a Mason himself, ordered that the stones be saved and "preserved in the archives of the Grand (Masonic) Lodges of the nation," according to a letter he sent to the Grand Master of Masons in Washington, D. C.
The stones, each carrying an insignia of the freemason that created it, were distributed among masonic lodges all across the country.
On Nov. 22, 1952, coincidentally 11 years to the date before President John F. Kennedyís assassination, Truman sent a letter along with the stone to the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Little Rock. "These evidences of the number of members of the Craft who built the Presidentís official residence so intimately aligns Freemasonry with the formation and the founding of our Government that I believe your Grand Lodge will cherish this link between the Fraternity and the Government of the Nation, of which The White House is a symbol," the letter read.
Each stone was delivered to lodges across the country by 1954, and each stone is embedded with a brass plate signifying that it is "Official White House Material taken in 1950."
After it makes its display at the Bentonville lodge Saturday, the stone will circulate throughout the state, particularly in elementary schools, to offer some American and state history to students.