Mount Rushmore was designed and built by Gutzon Borglum between October 4, 1927 – October 31, 1941. He was an American-born Danish artist and sculptor.
Borglum was an active member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (the Freemason), raised in Howard Lodge #35, New York City, on June 10, 1904, and serving as its Worshipful Master 1910-11. In 1915, he was appointed Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Denmark near the Grand Lodge of New York. He received his Scottish Rite Degrees in the New York City Consistory on October 25, 1907.Borglum was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
He sat on the Imperial Koncilium in 1923, which transferred leadership of The Ku Klux Klan from Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons to Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans. Later, he stated, “I am not a member of the Kloncilium, nor a knight of the KKK“, but Shaff and Shaff add, “that was for public consumption.” The museum at Mount Rushmore displays a letter to Borglum from D. C. Stephenson, the infamous Klan Grand Dragon who was later convicted of the rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer.
Check this out… bet you didn’t know this. He was asked to build a monument in Stone Moutain, Georgia that would memorialize Conferdate (so-called) heroes. Here are the details.
In 1915, he was approached by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with a project for sculpting a 20-foot (6 m) high bust of General Robert E. Lee on the mountain’s 800-foot (240 m) rockface. Borglum accepted, but told the committee, “Ladies, a twenty foot head of Lee on that mountainside would look like a postage stamp on a barn door.”
Borglum’s ideas eventually evolved into a high-relief frieze of Lee, Jefferson Davis, and ‘Stonewall’ Jackson riding around the mountain, followed by a legion of artillery troops.
After a delay caused by World War I, Borglum and the newly-chartered Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association set to work on this unexampled monument, the size of which had never been attempted before. Many difficulties slowed progress, some because of the sheer scale involved. After finishing the detailed model of the carving, Borglum was unable to trace the figures onto the massive area on which he was working, until he developed a gigantic magic to project the image onto the side of the mountain.
Carving officially began on June 23, 1923, with Borglum making the first cut. At Stone Mountain he developed sympathetic connections with the reorganized Ku Klux Klan, who were major financial backers for the monument. Lee’s head was unveiled on Lee’s birthday January 19, 1924, to a large crowd, but soon thereafter Borglum was increasingly at odds with the officials of the organization. His domineering, perfectionist, irascible, authoritarian manner brought tensions to such a point that in March 1925 Borglum smashed his clay and plaster models, and he left Georgia permanently. His tenure with the organization was over. None of his work remains, as it was all cleared from the mountain’s face for the work of Augustus Lukeman, Borglum’s replacement, but in his abortive attempt, Borglum had developed necessary techniques for sculpting on a gigantic scale that made Mount Rushmore possible.