Mt. Nebo Lodge No. 91, a Masonic lodge in Shepherdstown, will celebrate its bicentennial with a public open house on Dec. 11 where people can come view George Washington's Masonic apron.
The lodge, which is located at 121 E. German St., will be open to the public from noon to 3 p.m.
Following that, the lodge's current Master, George Alwin, of Shepherdstown, will present a history of the Mt. Nebo Lodge, which was chartered in Shepherdstown on Dec. 11, 1811.
The apron it owns was given to Washington in 1784 by the Marquis de Lafayette, who was also a Mason, and worn regularly by Washington until his death in 1799.
After Martha Washington died in 1802, the apron was purchased from her estate for $6 by Thomas Hammond, husband of George's niece, Mildred Washington. She was the daughter of George's brother Charles, who founded Charles Town, WV.
Hammond was a member of the Mt. Nebo Lodge, and he gave the apron to the lodge before he died in 1820.
Since then, the apron has been displayed in public only on rare occasions.
Its first public appearance was in 1844, at the 90th anniversary of the first Masonic meeting in what is now West Virginia, in Charles Town.
Subsequently, the apron was displayed at the laying of the cornerstone for the Smithsonian Institution in 1847 and the cornerstone ceremony for the Washington Monument in 1848.
Until recently, its last major public appearance was at the 100th anniversary of Washington's death at Mount Vernon in 1899.
In 2010, in preparation for its bicentennial, the Mt. Nebo Lodge lent the apron to George Washington's Mount Vernon and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Va., for conservation and study.
Mount Vernon subsequently displayed the apron from Feb. 22, 2011, Washington's 279th birthday, until May 2011.
Today, the apron remains on loan to Mount Vernon for preservation. By mutual agreement, it will be displayed publicly there only one day a year, on President's Day.
Also by mutual agreement, it is being returned to the Shepherdstown Lodge for Dec. 11, as part of the commemoration of the Lodge's bicentennial.
For information about the lodge and the apron, visit www.lodge91.org.