George Washington Inaugural Bible on display in West Bend

WEST BEND (WITI) -- The West Bend Masonic Lodge #138 is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and they're doing so in a big way.

"We're bringing the George Washington Inaugural Bible to town and we're going to have it on display for the public," said Jr. Warden Steven Hilger.

The bible, which is a National Artifact, will be publicly displayed Saturday, June 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"We just wanted to give back to the community and the Fraternity in Wisconsin in honor of the Lodge's 150 years of service," said Hilger.

The bible was used by George Washington when he was sworn in as the first President of the United States on April 30th, 1789. It has also been used in swearing in Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

Hilger says that while it's a privilege to have the bible in town, there are some strict standards to be followed.

"We have to arrange to have the bible safely stored at night and we have to have armed security present while the bible is on display," said Hilger.

Hilger is a retired Lieutenant with the Milwaukee Police Department and has the honor of standing guard.

The bible is a King James version and contains a number of artistic steel engravings. It is owned by St. John's Masonic Lodge #1 of New York, of which George Washington was a founding member.

When the bible isn't traveling the country, it is on display at Federal Hall in Manhattan, the site of the first inauguration.

This is the first time the National Artifact has been on display in Wisconsin.