The Capitol

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"Ground plan of the North Wing of the Capitol of the United States," by B. Henry Latrobe, watercolor and ink on paper, 1806

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:21 -- administrator

In November 1806 Labrobe 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 to lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults. This method of construction would render the wing sturdy and fireproof.

"Plan of the Principal Floor of the North Wing of the Capitol," by B. Henry Latrobe, watercolor and ink on paper, 1806

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:15 -- administrator

In November 1806 Labrobe 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 to lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults. This method of construction would render the wing sturdy and fireproof.

“Plan, shewing the alterations proposed in the principal Story of the North Wing of the Capitol,” by B. Henry Latrobe, watercolor and ink on paper, 1806

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:14 -- 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 to lay new masonry floors on solid brick arches and vaults. This method of construction would render the wing sturdy and fireproof.

"Respective View of the Federal House," by Andrew Mayfield Carshore, ink and ink wash on paper, 1806

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:13 -- administrator

A competition was held to design the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Most entries into the competition were not particularly sophisticated or majestic, looking more like county courthouses than a grand national edifice. Carshore’s entry was unique in one regard: it was the only drawing submitted in the competition that attempted to show the proposed “Federal House” design in perspective.

Image ID# 1976.88.23, Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society

Longitudinal Section of the Hall of Representatives, by B. Henry Latrobe, 1804

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:12 -- administrator

Shown in the center of the drawing is a seated figure of Liberty later modeled by Giuseppe Franzoni. The statue was placed above the Speaker's rostrum (not shown) and, along with the drapery and carved eagle, helped give the chamber a strong focal point.  Large, tapering skylights in the ceiling were designed to please President Thomas Jefferson, who had admired a similar arrangement in Paris. The chamber was destroyed by the British in 1814.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Sketch of a Section of the South Wing of the Capitol of the United States at Washington, of the Doric Order, Roman Style,” by B. Henry Latrobe, 1804

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:11 -- administrator

Latrobe used this drawing to convince President Thomas Jefferson that the Doric order could not be employed in the new House chamber without violating strict rules that govern classical design. Both men later agreed that the Corinthian order would be easier to use.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Proposed design for the U.S. Capitol, west elevation, by Dr. William Thornton, ca. 1793-1800

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:09 -- administrator

Thornton won the competition to design the U.S. Capitol, but his proposed west front, seen here, was not completed as shown. The principal feature of Thornton's design was a large circular conference room topped by a tall dome carried on Corinthian columns. Another colonnade was intended to run in front of the conference room. Allegorical figures celebrating America's strength and bounty were to stand on top of the central balustrade.

Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Design for the U.S. Capitol, East Elevation, by Dr. William Thornton, ca. 1793–1797

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:08 -- administrator

A competition was held to design the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In Thornton’s winning design, a domed center section (modeled after the Pantheon in Rome) contains a ceremonial rotunda and flanking wings, House and Senate legislative chambers, committee rooms, and a library. The Capitol was vast by American standards; it covered an area 10 times bigger than Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

"No. 2 of Saml. Dobie invt & del. For a Capitol to be built in the City of Washington," by Samuel Dobie, ink and ink washes on paper, 1792

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:08 -- administrator

A competition was held to design the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Some of the entries in the competition incorporated the kind of architectural features that President George Washington was hoping for, such as domes and grand porticoes, but none were able to achieve the imposing grandeur he also wanted. Dobie’s entry was among the better ones submitted, but still failed to win the president’s approval.

Image ID# 1976.88.40, Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society

Plan of the Capitol, No. 1. United States Capitol drawing competition, by Charles Wintersmith, ink and watercolor washes on paper, 1792

Mon, 2013-02-18 12:07 -- administrator

A competition to design the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., elicited 18 proposals. Of all the designs submitted for the president’s consideration, the one by Charles Wintersmith is perhaps the least appealing. The exterior has no architectural aspirations or interest, and the interior plan is inconveniently laid out with cramped stairs and few corridors. Designs such as these document the state of the architectural profession in America at the end of the 18th century.

Image ID# 1976.88.42, Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society

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