Naval Manument Tripoli Fieldguide to U.S. Public Monuments and Memorials Cabrillo
Monument Detail

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Abbreviated Extended Complete Print
George Washington (as Master Mason)
Town, State
New York, NY
ID #
Compilation Date (Initial)
August 10, 2012
Compilation Date (Latest)
August 10, 2012
Site Worked Last
June 15, 2014
This portrait of George Washington as First Master of a masonic Lodge in 1788 Virginia can jar today’s eye, standing as it does amidst 1,255 acres of recreation fields in New York’s largest city. Colonial members of the Masons fraternal order played notable and visible roles in the creation of the U.S. – a number of Bunker Hill and other Massachusetts leaders come to mind. Freemasonry crossed the Atlantic from the British Isles and Europe during the eighteenth century, and perhaps as early as the seventeenth. The Virginia lodge recalled in this work was located in Alexandria, along the banks of the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, the president’s birthplace. The statue, meanwhile, is situated in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens County, within the City of New York; here, Washington and his Continental Army fought the British, and then in 1789 he took -- at Manhattan’s Federal Hall -- the oath of office as first U.S. president.

The monument brings to the fore, more specifically, many public gifts of one of our nation’s founding fathers: fighter and leader in the French and Indian War and the War for Independence; participant in the continental congresses as well as the constitutional conventions; and first president of our new nation, elected to two terms. Washington’s age spanned the republic’s formation during the latter half of the 18th century, and his public and personal characteristics – then, like most of us now -- embodied the useful and the not so useful, the good and the not so good. His favorables were several. Washington was lucky enough to have lived in interesting times (1732-1799); the roar of the rising voices of the governed was underway, and it would prevail. During Washington’s early years he learned, as we say, to play well in the sandbox; and this capacity he had opportunities to develop and practice all his life. A final observation, Washington knew how and when to pay his dues -- and did so: he seemed unafraid to volunteer, to commit, whether fighting the French and Indians in the Ohio River valley (1754-1758, at age 22), taking command of the fledging Continental Army to engage the British at Cambridge (1775-1783, age 43) or accepting the reins of our evolving and expanding, post-colonial yet pre-federal governance apparatus, beginning with the framing period of our constitution (1787-1789, age 55). In the end, Washington was a leader, and many, for many years, followed.

On the other hand, one might recognize several aspects of Washington’s time on-stage that were perhaps less useful, less good when one is purposefully attempting to influence and, indeed, direct the lives of others. For instance, the formal education of the founding father seems comparatively modest and tightly focused on things technical and scientific. He took to surveying, became licensed and began taking the measure of and describing the land mass that would become, if you will, phase one of the United States of America. And Washington when contrasted to our five other major Founding Father figures, who lived into their mid- to late-80s and early 90s, wasn’t with us as long, passing at the age of 67. Finally, and notably, Washington was a man playing in the sandbox of his times – when privilege and slavery were viewed as treasures to be worked, exploited and expanded, and then worked again. And he did so with success and good returns on his investments. While his values here may be “understandable” – that’s just the way things were, then; nonetheless, they are, indeed, what they are – a comparative inadequacy, probably an outright failing. In the year of his death, Washington arranged, ultimately, to free his slaves, and he supported each financially for an extended period. (The president had married the prominent and wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759. In 1799, he predeceased her; in 1802, she died.) The final pension disbursement occurred in 1833. In retrospect, this “freeing” process by the Washingtons, though good, necessary and the only way, clearly, to proceed, appears as complex, daunting and foreign as slavery itself. And today, just as clearly, it’s still not over for all of us, this “freeing” process.

• The bronze figure of the republic’s first president, as Master Mason, stands atop a stone base and alongside an altar, gavel in his proper right hand and dressed in an apron and other fellowship insignia. Created by sculptor Donald De Lue, a productive artist with a New York and, later, a Middletown, New Jersey, studio, his career and creations were long and notable, respectively. Commentators and critics have associated the following terms with his works: figurative, monumental, Neoclassical, realist, Greco-Roman, Renaissance -- distinctive, then, as well as thematically cohesive. His body of work in the U.S. and elsewhere occupies settings that include the National Mall, Valley Forge and Gettysburg historic grounds and Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy -- in addition to these grounds in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, site of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair. De Lue’s portfolio seems to persevere, even as his creative efforts have shifted into and out of critical acclaim and popular favor. Boston-born (May 10, 1897), Donald Harcourt De Lue was raised and educated there, notably at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and, over time, in apprenticed positions at the studios of sculptors Bela Lyon Pratt, Richard Reccia, the Baker brothers and Alfredo Pina. De Lue also held memberships and prominent positions with artistic and artistic-support organizations, such as president of the National Sculpture Society (1945-1948), member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and also of the National Academy of Design. De Lue died August 26, 1988, in a hospital in Leonardo, New Jersey, a community on Raritan Bay that looks north toward New York City. Architect William Henry Deacy (1890-1967) collaborated with De Lue, creating the statue’s base of North Carolina pink granite; engravings on its four sides convey the work’s narrative. Deacy worked with De Lue and other artists as well as commercial developers of the time. This particular work was born of two earlier assignments by De Lue. In 1959, he created a Washington-as-Freemasonry-leader for the city of New Orleans – a gift to that government from the Louisiana Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons to mark its sesquicentennial. A second, later undertaking by De Lue produced for the Masonic Brotherhood Center at the 1964 fairgrounds a fully sized model of Washington in plaster, with a false patina. Following the fair’s closing in 1965, the Brotherhood with support from public officials and others commissioned De Lue and Deacy to replicate in bronze and stone the Fair’s plaster model, for permanent positioning within Flushing Meadows. Thirty-two years later, during the spring of 1999, the City of New York restored statue and setting. Conservation & Sculpture Company, Brooklyn, under the leadership of conservator Mark Rabinowitz, led the effort. (For technical details, see Comments/Design/3, below. The company would come to be called Conservation Solutions, of Washington, D.C. and Santa Fe, with Joseph Sembrat as well as Mark Rabinowitz heading the creative efforts.) During that spring, the site was also updated -- new circular paving, fresh lawns and some cherry trees, apparently these last with a wink.

• In the park, the monument stands at the center of a circle of land that is situated east of United Nations Avenue North between Avenue of the Americas on the north and Herbert Hoover Promenade to the south, with the Avenue of Commerce further east. Originally created to stand on the fairgrounds within the exhibit of the Masonic Brotherhood Center, the monument bisected the avenues of Europe and the Americas; now that location is part and parcel of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920s novel entitled “The Great Gatsby,” Flushing Meadows is that "valley of ashes" past which we travel from the city to the story’s West Egg and East Egg locations, on Long Island. Since the successful development of New York’s two world’s fairs (the first was 1939-1940), the park has become the largest in its county and the second largest in the city. Flushing Meadows is also home, beyond the USTA, to the temporary (1946-1950) operations center of the United Nations while its new, Manhattan headquarters was being built, Shea (New York Mets) Stadium, the Queens zoo and its nearby museum as well as monuments and markers such as “Freedom of the Human Spirit,” “Unisphere,” “Vatican Shrine” and others. Beyond professional tennis and baseball, Flushing also hosts nearly continuous, community- and league-based as well as pick-up team sports (from cricket, soccer, softball and volleyball to mini-golf and skateboarding) played by athletes from Central, South and North America, Europe and Asia. The park was dedicated June 3, 1967, the day the World’s Fair Corporation, in the person of master builder and 40-year New York public official Robert Moses, turned over to the City of New York the World’s Fair grounds.

• The monument was sponsored by the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, State of New York. Initially organized as a free-standing unit December 15, 1782, New York masonry spans the state. Its Grand Lodge Building and Masonic Hall are on West 29th Street, New York city; its homestead is situated in Utica. As the monument’s inscription expresses, Freemasonry supports other people and reaches out to men who believe in God and who are willing to support the lodge as well as Freemasonry. In this way, the organization can sustain itself and its works across time and locale. While the organization’s seemingly gravitational pull toward secrecy can be understood more positively as intrigue, its longstanding disinterest in including the female half of the human race would seem to limit its potential to accomplish goals and sustain its worthwhile influence. The work was dedicated June 3, 1967.
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Individual|group/family recognition
American Presidents
Elected official: US President
Colonial Wars ,War for Independence
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Inscription/Text Design
Statue(s) w/wo pedestal
Stone/rock and metal
Average (life-size)
Main + Three
Inscribed/lettered directly
Text available, all
Yes (see below)
Image numbering/location
3300-308.1, 3300-308.2, 3300-308.3, 3300-308.4, 3300-308.5, 3300-308.6, 3300-308.7, 3300-308.8, 3300-308.9, 3300-308.10
Design Preservation
Inscript. Separate from M|M
Designer 1
Artist/Artistic Group: De Lue, Donald
Designer 2
Artist/Artistic Group: Deacy, William Henry
Fabricator/Builder 1
Vittorio Lera Artistic Foundry 
Fabricator City
Fabricator State
Fabricator Country
Fabricator/Builder 2
Conservation Solutions
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Appeal of the Item
5 Good
Setting appears appropriate
5 Good
Traffic near for access, distanced for appreciation
4 Satisfactory
Visualization and panorama
5 Good
Opportunity to view, to enjoy the item
6 Very Good
Overall Averaged Score
5.0 Good (Given a 1.0 - 7.0 Range)
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June 03, 1967
Not Entered
Not Entered
Under Consideration
Other Monuments on Site
Local government
1) Themes
No Perceived Theme Match
National Historic Landmark Themes
The American Presidency
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File Number
New York
United States
Latitude (GPS)
Longitude (GPS)
Intersecting Street 1
United Nations Ave N
Intersecting Street 2
Herbert Hoover Promenade
Additional Identifier 1
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Additional Identifier 2
DAR/SAR | Fraternal Organizations/Groups
Under Consideration
Revolution: War/Governance | 1774-1788
Washington to Lincoln|1789-1865
Compilation Date (Initial)
August 10, 2012
Site Survey
Government Materials
Compilation Date (Latest)
Not Entered
Compilation Technique (Latest)
Source Originator
Comments and Notes
DESIGN/1: American National Biography Online notes that artist De Lue was born Donald H. Quigley, son of Henry T., an iron and steel dealer who had married Ida M. De Lue. The database compiler is assuming the son at some point took the mother’s family name; when and why is not known to the writer.
DESIGN/2: Additional awards/recognitions of De Lue: Medal of Honor and Harry Herring Medal, National Sculpture Society; Guggenheim fellowship; Golden Plate Award, National Academy of Achievement. He also served as chair, Art Committee for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at New York University, its site now a part of Bronx Community College, City University of New York.
DESIGN/3: -- Restoration of 1999: In an email, the director, Art & Antiquities/NYC Parks & Recreation, commented, in part, as follows : “The work at that time [by Conservation Solutions] consisted of an overall cleaning and removal of surface corrosion products. The cleaning revealed numerous cracks and flaws in the original casting that had been disguised by pigmented wax and epoxy. Five “weep holes” were drilled at discrete locations to permit moisture and salt deposit evacuation. The worst cracks were welded closed but left “proud” to increase the strength of these joints. Based on an analysis of the base material, the sculpture’s surface was selectively patined to honor original artistic intent and unify its surface. The bronze was then coated with a protective synthetic lacquer coat known as Incralac, followed by an cold application of Butchers bowling wax, and then buffed. We have cleaned and reapplied a protective wax coat each year since then. The granite pedestal was cleaned of soiling, graffiti, and ferrous stains. Cracks and stone fragments were filled with Sikadur 31 hi-mod gel epoxy toned to match the pigment of the stone. Losses on the base stone corner and all joints were filled with a color-matched specially formulated mortar.”
MAKER: The founder, at this writing, is assumed to be the Vittorio Lera Artistic Foundry, at Viareggio, Italy. This assumption is made because (a) De Lue’s nearby and concurrent effort , “Rocket Thrower” contains the “V. Lera,” founder’s mark and (b) the Parks and Recreation website for the Washington-as-Mason work says this statue was “cast in Italy.”
START DATE: Assumed to be 1962, the year in which De Lue was given the contract for “Rocket Thrower.”
SITE MAINTENANCE: Local government -- City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation
DEMOGRAPHY: LOCATION -- Flushing Meadows-Corona Park: Queens, New York, where the Grand Central Parkway intersects the Van Wyck Expressway.
DEMOGRAPHY: LEAD SPONSOR -- DAR/SAR|Fraternal Organizations/Groups: Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, State of New York.
SOURCES (1): AskART, “Donald Harcourt De Lue,” under biography of Childs Gallery, retrieved August 17, 2012; Edward J. Cocke, Monumental New Orleans,1968, p. 32; Lynn Dumenil, "Masonic Order," The Oxford Companion to United States History, retrieved August 13, 2012; “Freemasonry,” “George Washington,” Wikipedia, retrieved August 13, 2012; “George Washington Statue,” NYC Parks & Recreation website, retrieved August 10, 2012; James M. Goode, Washington Sculpture, 2008, p.772; Grand Lodge of the State of New York website, retrieved August 13, 2012; D. Roger Howlett, “De Lue, Donald Harcourt,” American National Biography Online, retrieved July 5, 2012; Jonathan Kuhn, “Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Encyclopedia of New York, Kenneth T. Jackson, ed., p. 420; Joseph Lederer, All Around the Town, 1975, pp. 230-232; Official Guide, New York World’s Fair 1964/1965, Time, Inc., 1964; Lawrence R. Samuel, The End of Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, 2007; SIRIS; Erin O. Stattel, “From Monumental to Medallions, Exhibit Showcases De Lue’s Work,” News Transcript (Greater Media Newspapers, Manalapan, NJ), August 12m 2009.
SOURCES (2): From The New York Times: John Canaday, “Art All Over the Fair,” April 25, 1964; “Donald De Lue, 90, Sculptor of Monuments” (Obit), August 27, 1988; “Fair Commissions Four Sculptors,” March 10, 1964; Murray Schumach, “Moses Gives City Fair Site as Park,” June 4, 1967.
COMMENT: The source for Washington’s having served as masonic leader of the Alexandria, Virginia, lodge for two years, starting 1788, is Cocke, p. 32. Washington took the oath of office, in New York, April 30, 1789.

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