A title page reading Services at the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Massachsuetts General Hospital

The lost cornerstone

Somewhere on the basement level or first floor of the Bulfinch Building is the hospital’s cornerstone, which was laid in a ceremony led by the Freemasons’ Grand Master Francis J. Oliver on July 4, 1818. Once the symbolically important first stone laid in a new building, cornerstones have retained their symbolism but are no longer always the first stone, and not necessarily in a building’s corner. While the hospital has documents describing the 1818 ceremony, they don’t include a description of the location, and the engraved stone has since been painted over or enclosed behind a wall. Its location is a mystery.