Last year Alan Butler and Janet Wolter tied together a number of conspiracy theories to allege that Washington, D.C. had been laid out by goddess-worshiping Freemasons to encode astronomical events of importance to an ancient cult dating back to the dawn of time. Since that time, they’ve apparently been hard at work looking for new material to fold into their conspiracy, and I learned that they added a new target that they now consider the “key” to understanding Washington: the Capitol Hill Summerhouse. “We have started to describe the Summerhouse as the ‘Key’ to Washington DC because it encapsulates so much of what the City is about in an astronomical and geometric sense,” the authors write on their website.
They inform readers that few people are familiar with the Summerhouse, mostly on account of the fact that they were unaware of its existence until last fall when Wolter “noticed it,” but as it happens I spent a pleasant lunch hour in it back in 1998, and I’m pretty sure I fed some rather fearless black and red squirrels that came up to me for a bite of my lunch.
The Summerhouse is a hexagonal brick structure with benches places near the Capitol between 1879 and 1881 as a place for visitors to get water from fountain and rest en route up Capitol Hill in the time before automobiles, when it was a bit of a hike. We know this from the records that were preserved from the time, including the architect’s letters. Our authors, however, call this paper trail mere “tradition.” Our authors believe that the building, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, is actually a secret astronomical observatory meant to signal the winter solstice. If it was, the conspirators were none too happy with it. “I heard that it was a house for some man’s monkey,” Kentucky Sen. James Beck declared in trying to defund the project. Congress succeeded in stopping a second summerhouse from being built on the other side of the Capitol.
In reality, Olmstead was less concerned about the stars than he was concerned that the building needed to be placed in a position where it was simultaneously hidden enough not to disrupt the view of the Capitol but public enough to prevent visitors from attempting to use it for sexual liaisons. To that end, he included a number of doors, windows, and viewing “slots” near the doors to ensure that the interior of the structure had no privacy and had sufficient light. “The seats are so disposed as, though shadowed, to be well lighted and to be each under constant inspection of the passing watchmen and the public through an opposite archway,” Olmsted wrote in the 1882 Annual Report of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol in explaining his design, noting that the design allowed “ladies” to use the summerhouse without fear of “annoyance” from amorous gentlemen. It is these openings that our authors believe were secretly intended to target the stars.
Our authors claim that if one stands in the doorway of the Summerhouse on December 21 at sunset, one would see the sun set directly over the 1878 Peace Monument located in front of the Capitol. While this may be true, it is more of a function of the Capitol’s east-west orientation than anything else, since Olmsted explained in the Annual Report that, as the name implied, “the house is closed in nightfall and in winter.” In the same document, Olmsted explained his actual plan for the openings: They were designed to align the structure with the Capitol building, so that the entire design of the Capitol grounds would focus on the Capitol dome, the Summerhouse included.
So how do we know Olmsted didn’t intend this alignment? If his testimony about the real alignment and the fact that no one would be present at the site at the winter solstice weren’t enough, it’s probably worth mentioning that the Summerhouse’s southwestern door doesn’t actually face the Peace Monument, instead opening onto a view of what is now the National Gallery of Art. The Peace Monument is south of this sight line and requires the viewer to stand at an angle in the doorway to make the “alignment.” Presumably an architect as able as Olmstead would have aligned the building’s façade perpendicular to the sight line to the monument if such an alignment were intended.
Butler and Wolter recognize that the entrance is about 12 degrees off of a true alignment, so they naturally have a conspiracy theory for that, too. Remember those slots that Olmsted added to provide lighting for the otherwise shaded seats? The authors don’t know that Olmsted put them there for that reason, wrongly thinking that an open-air building wouldn’t need additional light. Wolter “had a brain wave” (in their words) that the slots were Venus-trackers used for checking the measurement of the non-existent megalithic yard. (As I have explained in the past, Bulter’s version is actually a rounding error made from the use of standard American measurements, based on the old English system.) They think people would sit in the seats on the east side of the Summerhouse and watch Venus through the western slots with a pendulum, measuring out 366 “beats” per half-megalithic yard. So why have slots where Venus can’t be seen? Apparently it’s to make a giant Seal of Solomon for Freemasons, they say. Would Venus have actually been visible in these slots from the opposite seats at the appointed time? The authors don’t say. The fact that Olmstead intended for trees to enclose the view argues against the idea.
Our authors go on to state that they were unable to witness the sunset alignment firsthand because the horizon—once blocked trees Olmsted lamented (!) were being cut down—is now filled with the National Museum of the American Indian. Our authors consider this to be part of the conspiracy. “Once one understands the Venus families - that group of highly influential people that has been responsible for the planning of Washington DC and indeed many other cities in the United States, the words ‘accidental’ or ‘arbitrary’ cease to be significant.” According to the authors, this was intended to symbolize the close connection between the Venus Families and Native Americans, the same Native Americans that the Freemason-Illuminati-Goddess government of the United States explicitly tried to wipe from the face of the earth. They have an explanation for that, too: This places the Peace Monument between the Summerhouse and the museum, symbolizing an apology to Native peoples. Uh-huh. All this symbolism for a small structure Congress didn’t want, that was never meant to be open during the “symbolic” solstice, and whose architect clearly explained his very different purpose.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.