extracted from 'Signature Of The Invisible Brotherhood'


The history of the city plan for Washington, D.C. is not quit what most citizens of the United States might expect. It appears to be more of a private venture than a public project. Private in more ways than one.

The newly formed Congress established as one of the newly elected President’s first duties to chose the location of the city to be the Capital of the United States. After a location was determined, a new city would be established for the Nation’s Capital. It was the responsibility of George Washington to determine the sight for the Capital.

But, was this location already chosen before the forming of the United States? Washington, D.C. is found in the same general geographic location as Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Most history books tell us that Washington’s location was established as a compromise between the Southern and Northern States. But, Baron De Graffenried (a Swiss baron) tried to establish a colony at the exact location of Washington, D.C. as the preferred site for his project.


De Graffenried states,

“I believe that there are scarcely any places in the world more beautiful and better situated than this of the Potomac... There is a very pretty island (Theodore Roosevelt Island) of very good ground, and facing it, an angle between the great Potomac River and another little river named Gold Creek (now Rock Creek).”

The land on which much of the Capital City is built today was owned by Ninian Beall, a Scot who owned a 1,503-acre track called “Inclosure.” Two other tracks called “Beall’s Levels and the Rock of Dumbarton” make up current day Washington, D.C. and Georgetown. Was George Washington continuing a project established by De Graffenried and Beall 60 years earlier?



History tell us that the Frenchman Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant was the city planner for Washington, D.C. But, a few books establish the fact that L’Enfant was really the middleman working from a set of original plans developed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Both Washington and L’Enfant had two things in common. First, they both served in the War for Independence, L’Enfant being a French volunteer in the Corps of Engineers. Second, they were both members of the newly formed Society of Cincinnati.

L’Enfant had been asked by Baron von Steuben and members of the Society of Cincinnati to design the insignia for this exclusive group. This was the job for someone who understood symbols related to the principles of the Society. His work so impressed George Washington, the president of the Society of Cincinnati; that L’Enfant was asked to work on several national projects.

Later L’Enfant designed the courthouse in New York, where the first Congress of the United States held its meetings. History tells us, it was a combination of his work with the Society of Cincinnati and the New York Congress building that made George Washington chose L’Enfant as the designer for the city plan of Washington, D.C. It appears L’Enfant was handpicked for his ability in the use of symbolic design, instead of his ability as a city planner.

This is most true when you consider the fact that L’Enfant was not known as a city planner, or does it appear he designed any city plans before Washington, D.C. Based on a letter to L’Enfant, date August 18, 1791, Jefferson communicated his ideas for the map of the city directly to L’Enfant. Some historians believe L’Enfant adopted these ideas and expanded on




It is unclear if George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Pierre L’Enfant himself determined the various symbols that form the streets of Washington, D.C. Many things indicate that L’Enfant was just following orders from Washington and Jefferson. In the book L’Enfant and Washington, it is pointed out that Washington was pulling all the strings, since the plans appear to be “orally conveyed” by Washington to L’Enfant.

The fact that three years of George Washington’s diary has mysteriously disappeared, prevents us from knowing exactly what sort of communications occurred between George Washington and L’Enfant. In addition, correspondence with Jefferson concerning the development of the proposed “Plan” have disappeared. The mysterious disappearance of this historical information concerning both Washington and Jefferson and their involvement in the original design of Washington, D.C. wreaks of a cover up - perhaps the original Watergate.

Is it possible that the missing dairies and correspondence have been intentionally lost to maintain secrecy about the true nature of the development of the Nation’s Capital?

It is known that the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, issued the orders for L’Enfant to design the city and public buildings. Washington, Jefferson, and L’Enfant met twice weekly, every Wednesday and Saturday evenings to discuss the “Plan.” Both Jefferson and Washington felt an affinity with Roman institutions, law, citizenship, and architecture; so many Roman features like dooms and columns were adopted to the “Plan.”

Andrew Ellicott was the surveyor who laid out the city and its streets. He established 40 boundary stones one mile apart, producing a ten mile square boundary. The center point was fixed by night observations from a level platform on the hill where the Capital Building was to be built. Records were kept on the north star and the moon to establish a line due east and west, another straight line due north and south, with the center of the Capital dome at the point of intersection. Ellicott was responsible for finishing the “Plan” when L’Enfant was fired.

The city that L’Enfant’s original plans proposed for the Capital City is nothing like the present day Washington. The symbols in the streets of Washington, D.C. today appear to have evolved from L’Enfant’s basic design. This basic design did include the layout of “different shapes” as specified in the written legends that accompanies the original set of plans. The following is the original legend for the plans for Washington, D.C.




I. The positions for the different Grand Edifices, and for several Grand Squares or Areas of different shapes as they are laid down, were first determined on the most advantageous ground, commanding the most extensive prospects, and the better susceptible of such improvements as the various intents of several objects may require.

II. Lines or Avenues of direct communication have been devised, to connect the separate and most distant objects with the principal, and to preserve through the whole a reciprocity of sight at the same time. Attention has been paid to the passing of these leading avenues over the most favorable ground for prospect and convenience.

III. North and South lines, intersected by other running due East and West, make the distribution of the city into streets, squares etc., and those lines have been so combined as to meet at certain given points with those divergent avenues, so as to form on the spaces “first determined,” the different Squares or Areas which are all proportional in magnitude to the number of avenues leading to them.”

Though the legend does not name or explain the specific shapes or symbols, it does make clear that areas of “different shapes” were in the original plans proposed to L’Enfant by Washington or Jefferson.

Now take the words from the legend that have been underlined and think about their meaning. Is it possible another meaning is being expressed other than the layout of city streets?

When land in the city limits of Washington, D.C. was offered for sell, property owners demanded copies of the city plan. L’Enfant refused claiming that if the maps were made public before the principal buildings were established, unsightly structures would be built on the best locations. This caused the sell of lots to fail, preventing the government from getting the needed funds to finish the city on time. The President was forced to dismiss L’Enfant in 1792, only one year after he had started work on the city.

In 1812, Secretary of War James Monroe ask L’Enfant to build Fort Washington south of the city to defend against future British attacks. Again, his work was incomplete and he was dismissed. He spent his remaining years as a ground keeper residing at the Chilham Castle Manor, the estate of his benefactor, William Dudley Digges, at Green Hills, Maryland. He
died on June 14, 1825 and was buried in obscurity until 1909. In 1909 his remains were moved with military escort to the Capital building, where he laid in state for three hours.

During that time, thousands of Americans paid their respects to the man who had planned the Nation’s Capital City. On noon of that day, he was buried at a honored vantage point in Arlington National Cemetery. On May 22, 1911 a tombstone that now marks his grave was dedicated. The tombstone is engraved with a motif of the first map of L’Enfant’s “Plan.”

Is it possible that L’Enfant had designed something so special in his city plan that no one of his day could appreciate or understand it? It is possible that someone around 1900 recognized the value of his work? Placing the body of an architect who does not finish what he starts, in the Capital Building Rotunda for public ceremonies eighty-four years after his death for only three hours, sounds very unusual. According to the history books, thousands of people appeared for the public viewing at the Capital.

  • Can thousands of people really pass in precession through the Rotunda in three hours?

  • Is something else really taking place in these ceremonies?

  • If Washington and Jefferson are the real originators of the design; why is L’Enfant, who was dismissed from the job, receiving all the credit?

  • Is someone trying to sidetrack us with a re-write on history?

The Capital Rotunda has a secret of its own. Hidden below the floor of the Rotunda is a Crypt Room which was originally designed to be the resting place of George Washington.

You will see a model of the Capital Building on display in this room. Beneath the center of the Crypt floor (marked by a star) is the vacant tomb of George Washington. This is an American version of Napoleon’s tomb. Washington’s resting place is at Mt. Vernon, but his remains were nearly moved to the Rotunda in 1832. Space was provided in the construction of the central section of the Rotunda between 1818-1829 for the tomb by a joint resolution passed by Congress.


On Feb. 13, 1832 Congress executed an original resolution to have the body of Washington moved to the Crypt Room. But, John A. Washington, grand-nephew of George Washington, refused consent. The bodies of Kennedy, Lincoln, McKinley, Garfield, Harding, Taft, Hoover, Wilson, Stevens, Dewey, Pershing, MacArthur, L’Enfant, and two unknown soldiers have been placed on the catafalque found in the tomb.

There is another well-known underground Crypt beneath a dome. It is the tomb of St. Peter beneath the Basilica at the Vatican.

L’Enfant City Plan 1792 , Library of Congress, Photo & Maps Division



Washington, D.C. will always be a city of constant change. The city has experienced many changes in the street layout that can be grouped in stages. Each stage has added new symbols to the original “Plan.” The next few pages illustrates the changes in the streets of Washington over the past 200 years.

The L’Enfant-Ellicott stage was started on April 15, 1791 and was finished in 1799. Congress moved to town the following year. On Saturday, November 22, 1800 the Congress met for the first time in Washington at a joint meeting in the Senate Chamber of the unfinished Capital Building. President Adams made a speech at this first meeting.

“... it would be unbecoming the representatives of this nation to assemble for the first time in this solemn temple, without looking up to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Imploring His blessing.”

Why did Adams refer to the Senate wing of the unfinished Capital building as a “temple?”




The attack on Washington, D.C. by the British was the only time the Capital of United States was invaded since its conception. On August 24, 1814 the British began their destruction that went on through the night and the next morning. Only the Patent Office was spared destruction because Dr. Thornton convinced them,

“to burn what would be useful to all mankind, would be as barbarous as formerly to bum the Alexandrian Library, for which the Turks have since been condemned by all enlightened nations.”

But, on August 25 a great storm blew up, putting out the fires and driving out the invaders.

According to Mary Ingle, thirteen at the time;

“I well remember the terrific tornado which drove the enemy in haste to their ships, from which [hey were in dread of being cut off... The sky changed from the peculiar leaden hue portending a wind storm, into almost midnight blackness. Then came the crash and glare on incessant thunder and lightning, and the wild beating of the rain........ Later we encountered a group of British officers taking a last drink from the old pump.

‘Great God, Madam!’ said Admiral Cockburn, ‘is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?’ ‘No, sir,’ was the reply; ‘this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city.’ ‘Not so, Madam,’ he answered; ‘it is rather to aid them in destruction of your city.’

With this parting shot the ‘Red Coats’ galloped off and disappeared forever from the Nation’s Capital.”



The Washington Monument Stage

Washington, D.C. Tour Guide, 1801, Library of Congress


This is the stage of city growth in which the Washington Monument was started and finished.


The Lincoln Stage

The Senate Park Commission of 1901, lead by Senator James McMillan of Michigan, further expanded the city’s design by adding to the west end of L’Enfant’s original plan the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial was built on swamp land. It was completed before the Jefferson Memorial.

McMillan Plan 1901, Library of Congress

The Jefferson Stage

This is the start of what may be considered to be the current stage of the city plan for Washington, D.C. The finishing of the Jefferson Memorial, originally named “Hall of the Founding Fathers,” adds to the plan by giving it the current symmetrical shape based around L’Enfant’s original “Plan.” This shape not only adds to the symmetrical layout of the original design, but it adds to the symbolic meaning of the “Plan.”


The Jefferson Memorial appears to be borrowed from the original design of the Washington Monument. Most historians believe it was designed after the Pantheon in Rome.

The original “Plan” by L’Enfant called for five points of interest. With the completion of the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Capital Building these five points were accomplished. But, it is possible L’Enfant was referring to five other points?

First Design for Washington Monument,
Library of Congress