The Crown Jewel of National Sojourners: Collingwood Library

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Nestled along the banks of the Potomac River just off the George Washington Parkway, Collingwood sits on 8.75 acres and provides a quiet, peaceful place to take a step back in time.

Collingwood has a rich history. The property has been home to a tribe of the Iroquois Nation, was at one time a dairy farm, and was owned by George Washington, who acquired the property in 1760. After a transfer of ownership to the stepsons of Tobias Lear, it is believed that the property acquired the name Collingwood in tribute to Admiral Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, who was second in command to Admiral Horatio Nelson and a hero of the Battle of Trafalgar. The present building dates to the 1850s.

In 1944, the U.S. Army acquired the building and operated an intelligence school on the grounds. The mansion was later used as an upscale tearoom. In 1976, a foundation comprised of members of the National Sojourners was incorporated and purchased the property in 1977. Collingwood has grown from a modest two-room house in Washingtons time to a mansion that now hosts weddings, reunions, parties and corporate meetings.

Collingwood is also the National Headquarters of the National Sojourners and houses a library and museum of Americanism with more than 6,000 volumes of nonfiction relating to American history and culture. Additionally, there are more than 480 volumes on Freemasonry in Colonial America and British Masonry available for viewing. The museum displays the flags of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the five armed services, the historic Bennington flag and the National Colors. Also on display are a gold-cast copy of the Magna Carta and a collection of Indian artifacts.

On October 17, brother Masons gathered on a beautiful fall day to dedicate a new building at Collingwood. The American Legacy Center, designed to complement the colonial heritage of Collingwood, is an 8,000-plus square foot building with a capacity for up to 240 people.

Whats so exciting about this new center is that it shows the forward thinking of the former board of directors president, William Williamson, who had the vision to propose and work with designers on the new project, said Gale Curcio, Collingwood Sales and Marketing Manager.

LTC William Williamson, USA (Ret.) thanked the more than 125 guests and brother Masons for attending the Cornerstone Laying and Dedication Ceremony while reminding them that it was an eight-year process, with four years needed just to get the permits. The completion of the American Legacy Center is the culmination of an eight-year effort to enhance the ability of Collingwood Library and Museum on Americanism to provide an expanded venue to present programs on Americanism to the public, said Williamson. I am very grateful for the support we have been given to accomplish this project by both private citizens and our Mount Vernon Supervisor, Gerry Hyland.

Using the tools of a mason (the plumb, level, square, setting maul and trowel), the cornerstone was declared duly laid, square, level and plumb, the work was blessed and the building declared ready to serve by the officers of the Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22, Grand Lodge of Virginia, A.F. & A.M.

Lt. Col. Joseph H. Baker, Jr., USAF, Ret., President of National Sojourners, Inc., called Collingwood and the new American Legacy Center the crown jewel of National Sojourners. This is a place where our national history really began. It was a natural to be here. Our connection to our brother George Washington makes it appropriate that we have our headquarters here.

Collingwood will be decked out for the holidays from November 14 through 16 for a fundraiser for United Community Ministries. There will be tours and hourly presentations on topics such as making boxwood wreaths, tips for wiring your tree and taking perfect holiday photos.

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