Historic Environment Scotland’s plaque scheme has commemorated another of the nation’s stories through people in the past.
A group of Scots stonemasons were instrumental in the construction of the White House and have been honoured in their home city of Edinburgh.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Stewart McLaurin, President of The White House Historical Association unveiled the plaque at 66 Queen Street in Edinburgh.
The building was one worked on by stonemasons John and James Williamson, before they travelled to Washington D.C. to commence work on the US Presidential residence.
The Williamson brothers were among a group of six members of Edinburgh Lodge number 8 who travelled to the USA in 1794, and whose skilled craftsmanship would make its mark on the White House.
The stonemasons carried out elaborate carvings on the façade of the structure, including the iconic ‘Double Scottish Rose’ which features on many different parts of the building.
Recently Charles Jones, Technical Conservation Skills Programme Manager and time served stonemason at HES, followed in the footsteps of the Williamson brothers when he was commissioned to carve a replica Double Scottish Rose by the White House Historical Association during a Symposium earlier this year. The replica is now on display in the White House Visitors Centre.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, said:
“Skilled Scottish stonemasonry was highly sought-after during the 18th century, and the important work undertaken on the White House demonstrates its lasting global significance.
“This plaque is a fitting tribute to the pioneering Scottish stonemasons of over two centuries ago, and I hope it will provide inspiration for our next generation of craftspeople to carve their names in history.”
Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, said:
“The stone masons of Scotland today are the legacy of great craftsmen from the 18th century who came to Washington and created the beautiful carvings that we still see on the White House.
“The Double Scottish Rose that we see on every pilaster is a Scots wink from those stonemasons and we were thrilled to have a reminder of that extraordinary stonemason talent.”
The story of the stonemasons is explored in a new exhibition now on display at the Engine Shed in Stirling. The Scots Who Built the White House, housed at Scotland’s building conservation centre, examines the role played by these Scottish stonemasons in the construction of one of most iconic buildings in the world, and how their legacy survives in modern Scottish stonemasonry.
Exhibits on display include the 18th century masons mark book containing mason marks of both John and James Williamson, and the meeting minutes book where the trip was discussed, both on loan from Edinburgh Lodge 8. A replica of the Double Scottish Rose, carved by HES stonemasons, will also be on display.