THE story of the Scottish stonemasons who helped to build the White House in Washington DC is to be told in a new exhibition opening in Stirling later this month.

One of the most recognisable buildings in the world, the home of the President of the US is still reckoned to be the finest 18th century building in America and it owes much to the team of stonemasons from Edinburgh who built much of it.

At the time of its construction in the 1790s, Scottish stonemasons were considered to be the best in the world, and the officials building the White House project sent to Edinburgh for suitable recruits.

It is believed that the skilled tradesmen were found through Edinburgh Lodge Number 1, often considered to be the oldest masonic lodge in the world due to the preservation of its 16th century records.

At least seven and possibly as many as a dozen stonemasons left Edinburgh where work on the New Town was temporarily at a downturn, and despite there being a ban on travel to the US they made their way to Washington.

Now the White House Historical Association’s president Stewart McLaurin will travel to Scotland to unveil a commemorative plaque alongside Historic Environment Scotland’s chief executive Alex Paterson later this month.

The plaque at 66 Queen Street, Edinburgh, will celebrate the significant work of that group of Scottish stonemasons in the construction of the White House.

It will be ceremoniously placed in front of a building that John and James Williamson, two of the stonemasons who worked on the White House, built before leaving for America.

This event will coincide with the launch of a new exhibition at The Engine Shed in Stirling: “The Scots Who Built the White House”.

The exhibition is supported by the White House Historical Association which was launched in 1961 at the instigation of the then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy who envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts.

The White House Historical Association said in a statement that it had been established “to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come.”

The statement added: “Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has contributed more than $47 million in fulfilment of its mission.”

A distinctive stone feature, the Double Scottish Rose, was used as a motif throughout the White House and stonemason Charles Jones from Carnoustie went to Washington to replicate one earlier this year.

McLaurin said at the time: “The stonemasons of Scotland today are the legacy of great craftsmen from the 18th century who came to Washington and created the beautiful carvings that we still see on the White House.”