Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

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Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
The oldest of the three United States Library of Congress buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz, who won the competition for the architectural plans of the library in 1873, continued developing the design until final submission in 1892 at which point it was turned over to Edward Pearce Casey. Casey was the son of Brig. Gen. Thomas Lincoln Casey, Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Library of Congress Building as it was at first known, is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, DC. The Thomas Jefferson Building, containing some of the richest public interiors in the United States, is a compendium of the work of classically-trained American sculptors and painters of the "American Renaissance", in programs of symbolic content that exhibited the progress of civilization, personified in Great Men and culminating in the American official culture of the Gilded Age; the programs were in many cases set out by the Librarian of Congress, Ainsworth Rand Spofford. The central block is broadly comparable to the Palais Garnier in Paris, a similarly ambitious expression of triumphant cultural nationalism in the Beaux-Arts style that had triumphed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893. On the exterior, sculptured portrait heads that were considered typical of the world's races were installed as keystones on the main storey's window arches. The Court of Neptune Fountain centered on the entrance front invites comparison with the Trevi Fountain; its sculptor was Roland Hinton Perry. The copper dome, originally gilded, was criticized at the structure's completion, as too competitive with the national Capitol Building.


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Building Activity

  • H. Paul Moon
    H. Paul Moon updated 24 media, updated 2 digital references, uploaded 4 media and updated
    Great Hall Ceiling of Great Hall Statue in Great Hall Panorama of Great Hall
    about 4 years ago via
  • H. Paul Moon
    H. Paul Moon updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator