|Thomas Jefferson Building|
The Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress
|Town or city||Washington, D.C.|
|Design and construction|
The oldest of the four United States Library of Congress buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It was originally known as the Library of Congress Building and is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. The Beaux-Arts style building is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. Its design and construction has a tortuous history; the building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz won the competition for the architectural plans of the library in 1873. The start of the project was delayed by congressional debates until a vote in 1886. In 1888, Smithmeyer was dismissed and Pelz became the lead architect. Pelz was himself dismissed in 1892 and replaced by Edward Pearce Casey, the son of Brig. Gen. Thomas Lincoln Casey, Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who at the time was in charge of the building's construction.While Smithmeyer was instrumental in securing the commission, Pelz appears to have been the main designer of the building and oversaw most of the exterior work. Casey is credited for the completion of the interiors and the artistic supervision of the building's unique decorative program. The Library opened to the public in 1897 and the finishing work was completed in 1898.
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 paintersof 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 second-floor portico of the front entrance facing the U.S. Capitol features nine prominent busts of Great Men as selected by Ainsworth Rand Spofford in accordance with Gilded Age ideals. From left to right when one faces the building, they are Demosthenes (portico north side), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Babbington Macaulay, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sir Walter Scott and Dante Alighieri (portico south side). The sculptors were Herbert Adams, Jonathan Scott Hartley and Frederick W. Ruckstull. 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.
Needing more room for its increasing collection, the Library of Congress under Librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford suggested to the Congress that a new building be built specifically to serve as the American national library. Prior to this the Library existed in a wing of the Capitol Building. The new building was needed partly because of the growing Congress, but also partly because of the Copyright Law of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work. This resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints and photographs. Spofford had been instrumental in the enactment of this law.
After Congress approved construction of the building in 1886, it took eleven years to complete. The building opened to the public on November 1, 1897, met with wide approval and was immediately seen as a national monument. The building name was changed on June 13, 1980 to honor former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, who had been a key figure in the establishment of the Library in 1800. Jefferson offered to sell his personal book collection to Congress in September 1814, one month after the British had burned the Capitol in the War of 1812.
Prior to the 2000s, the Jefferson Building was linked to the Capitol Building by a purpose built book tunnel.This housed an electric "book conveying apparatus" that could transport volumes between the two buildings at 600 feet per minute. A portion of the book tunnel was destroyed to make room for the underground Capitol Visitor Center, which opened in 2008.
Senate, House and Supreme Court pages formerly attended school together in the Capitol Page School located on the attic level above the Great Hall. Upon the separation of the programs (and the closure of the Supreme Court Page Program), the schools split. Senate Pages now attend school in the basement of their dormitory. The House Page Program was closed in August 2011. A small suite in the northwest corner of the attic level remains home to the official office of the Poet Laureate of the United States.
The Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Auditorium, which opened in October, 1925, has been home to more than 2,000 concerts, primarily of classical chamber music, but occasionally also of jazz, folk music, and special presentations.Some performances make use of the Library's extensive collection of musical instruments and manuscripts. Most of the performances are free and open to the public.
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge was a wealthy patron of the arts and was no relation to Calvin Coolidge, who, coincidentally, was President of the United States at the time the Coolidge auditorium was established.
More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art.
The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Though no longer at the geographic center of the federal district, the Capitol forms the origin point for the district's street-numbering system and the district's four quadrants.
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge aka Liz Coolidge, born Elizabeth Penn Sprague, was an American pianist and patron of music, especially of chamber music.
John Russell Young was an American journalist, author, diplomat, and the seventh Librarian of the United States Congress from 1897 to 1899. He was invited by Ulysses S. Grant to accompany him on a world tour for purposes of recording the two-year journey, which he published in a two-volume work.
John Gould Stephenson was an American physician and soldier. He was the fifth Librarian of the United States Congress from 1861 to 1864. He was referred to as the "librarian of the Civil War era" because Stephenson's tenure of librarianship covered almost the entire length of the war.
Alexander Stirling Calder was an American sculptor and teacher. He was the son of sculptor Alexander Milne Calder and the father of sculptor Alexander (Sandy) Calder. His best-known works are George Washington as President on the Washington Square Arch in New York City, the Swann Memorial Fountain in Philadelphia, and the Leif Eriksson Memorial in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Ainsworth Rand Spofford was an American journalist and the sixth Librarian of Congress.
The Vermont State House, located in Montpelier, is the state capitol of the U.S. state of Vermont. It is the seat of the Vermont General Assembly. The current Greek Revival structure is the third building on the same site to be used as the State House. Designed by Thomas Silloway in 1857 and 1858, it was occupied in 1859.
Edwin Howland Blashfield was an American painter and muralist, most known for painting the murals on the dome of the Library of Congress Main Reading Room in Washington, DC.
Jonathan Scott Hartley, American sculptor, was born at Albany, New York.
The Alabama State Capitol, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the First Confederate Capitol, is the state capitol building for Alabama. Located on Capitol Hill, originally Goat Hill, in Montgomery, it was declared a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960.
Robert Lewis Reid was an American Impressionist painter and muralist. His work tended to be very decorative, much of it centered on depiction of young women set among flowers. He later became known for his murals and designs in stained glass.
The 54th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1895, to March 4, 1897, during the last two years of Grover Cleveland's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Eleventh Census of the United States in 1890. The House had a Republican majority, and the Republicans were the largest party in the Senate.
Charles Sprague Pearce was an American artist.
Norcross Brothers Contractors and Builders was a prominent nineteenth-century American construction company, especially noted for their work, mostly in stone, for the architectural firms of H.H. Richardson and McKim, Mead & White. The company was founded by James Atkinson and Orlando Whitney, who were contracted for their first project in 1869. In all, the company is credited with completing over 650 building projects.
William de Leftwich Dodge (1867–1935) was an American artist best known for his murals, which were commissioned for both public and private buildings.
The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The library's functions are overseen by the librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."
Paul Johannes Pelz was a German-American architect, best known as the main architect of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Edward Pearce Casey (1864–1940) was an American designer and architect, noted for his work in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
The New England Granite Works was a firm incorporated in Hartford, Connecticut on June 16, 1871 by James G. Batterson. It was notable for creating a large number of works in the New England area until it was dissolved on June 26, 1926.
John L. Smithmeyer (1832-1908) was an American architect.
Over forty artists were commissioned to produce sculpture, bas-relief panels, frescoes and empanelled canvases, and designs for mosaic.