The Capitol

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Details of Construction of Tholus, by Thomas U. Walter, 1861

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:08 -- administrator

Thomas U. Walter’s draftsman drew a plan of the structural elements of the Capitol’s tholus, or dome. He created a trompe l’oeil (fool-the-eye) effect of a smaller drawing of the cross section laying on top of another drawing sheet showing the same element in elevation. The construction drawings were skillfully done in ink and filled in with watercolor. The details needed to be clear and exact, as they were used to guide the casting of the iron structural pieces in New York.

 

Architect of the Capitol

Eastern Elevation of North Wing, Capitol Extension, by Thomas U. Walter, ca. 1855

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:07 -- administrator

Thomas U. Walter’s drawing shows each wing of the Capitol Extension fronted by a grand Corinthian portico above a broad flight of marble stairs. The general outline of the porticoes was derived from the central one designed by B. Henry Latrobe, but with no pediments (the triangular features atop the central columns). In 1853 the War Department took over supervision of the extension project. Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, the engineer in charge, asked Walter to add pediments to accommodate sculpture.

 

Architect of the Capitol

East front of the Capitol, by Alexander Jackson Davis, ca. 1832-34

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:06 -- administrator

Alexander Jackson Davis made a thorough examination of the Capitol’s complicated plan and recorded it in a series of drawings that remain the most accurate record of the building as first completed. He also drew this charming view of the East Front, showing the wood-and-copper dome framed by a pair of enormous American flags.

 

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Proposed Enlargement of the Capitol, by Robert Mills, ca. 1851

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:05 -- administrator

Robert Mills drew this elevation after the Senate Committee on Public Buildings asked him to combine the best features of other designs submitted in a competition for the enlargement of the Capitol. It shows north and south wings attached directly to the ends of the old building and fronted by semi-circular porticoes. He added a new attic story over the old building and a new dome standing on the old Rotunda walls. The interior of the new wings contained large legislative chambers, additional committee rooms, and offices. This design was never approved.

 

Plan, shewing [sic] the alterations proposed in the principal Story of the North Wing of the Capitol, by B. Henry Latrobe, drafted by George Blagden, 1806

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:04 -- administrator

This floor plan was part of B. Henry Latrobe’s 1806 comprehensive scheme for rebuilding the Capitol’s north wing, which had fallen into disrepair despite being only six years old. He wanted to remove the rotting floor joists and lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults to make the wing sturdy and fireproof.

 

Ground Plan of the North Wing of the Capitol of the United States shewing [sic] it, as proposed to Be altered, on the Ground Story, by B. Henry Latrobe, 1806

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:03 -- administrator

In November 1806 B. Henry Latrobe submitted a proposal for rebuilding the Capitol’s north wing, which had fallen into disrepair despite being only six years old. He wanted to remove the rotting floor joists and lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults to make the wing sturdy and fireproof.

 

Ground Story of the Capitol U. S. 1817, by B. Henry Latrobe, 1817

Fri, 2013-08-30 11:12 -- administrator

On August 24, 1814, British troops set off intense fires in the Capitol that ruined both chambers, destroyed the Library of Congress, and heavily damaged the Supreme Court. Having previously worked on the Capitol’s design, B. Henry Latrobe returned to Washington in April 1815 to restore the wings of the Capitol. Latrobe radically altered the north wing with this plan, leaving only the east vestibule and corn columns as they were before the fire. The ground story of the south wing was virtually unchanged.

Architect of the Capitol

Interior View, Library of Congress, by Thomas U. Walter, 1852

Fri, 2013-08-30 11:11 -- administrator

On Christmas Eve 1851, the Library of Congress was gutted by a disastrous fire. Before the ashes had cooled Thomas U. Walter, the architect of the Capitol extension, was asked to supervise its reconstruction. In response, Walter designed the first room in America with an iron ceiling. The book cases and balconies were also cast iron, an inexpensive, quickly made, and, most importantly, fireproof material. The innovative room was completed in 1853 and used for four decades before being dismantled in 1900, three years after the library moved to its own building in 1897.

The Capitol from the Railway Station, Washington, U.S., July 29, 1846, by Michael Seymour, 1846

Fri, 2013-08-30 11:08 -- administrator

This appealing view of the imposing Capitol overlooking modest houses and sheds illustrates the close proximity of the grandiose with the mundane. Public buildings interspersed throughout the capital city attracted distinct communities of workers, clerks, and high-society people who had reason to live close by. The railroad station at the time was located near the center of today’s Mall.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Plan of the Attic Story of Capitol as Proposed to be Altered . . . , by B. Henry Latrobe, 1806

Fri, 2013-08-30 10:49 -- administrator

In November 1806 Latrobe finished a comprehensive scheme for rebuilding the north wing, which had fallen into disrepair despite being only six years old. He wanted to remove the rotting floor joists and lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults. This construction method would make the wing sturdy and fireproof.

 

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