August 26, 2014
From 1793 until today, the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. has been a topic of interest—and has been the subject of several Government publications! The Capitol dome is soon to be covered with scaffolding for two years for a restoration project, so let’s try to uncover some Capitol treasures before that happens.
Proposed scaffolding for Capitol dome restoration
Architect of the Capitol
History of the Capitol
Representative Rufus Choate in 1833 came up with this idea: “We have built no national temples but the Capitol; we consult no common oracle but the Constitution.” Do you agree? You’ll find that quote as well as plenty more information about the building in the book History of the United States Capitol: A Chronicle of Design, Construction, and Politics, also known as S. Doc. 106-29 and part of the Congressional Committee Materials collection on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). If you’re a more down to earth person and want details on the cost of building the Capitol, check out Chapter 10 of H. Doc. 108-240, Glenn Brown’s History of the United States Capitol , also available on FDsys.
Capitol dome/Dome restoration
The Capitol dome is part of what makes it one of the most recognizable buildings in the country—but did you know it is not the first dome that was on the building? The current dome was designed by Thomas U. Walter and built over 150 years ago, from 1855-1866. The first dome was designed by Charles Bulfinch and finished in 1824. The last time the dome was restored was 1959-1960, and the cast iron now has more than 1,000 cracks, so it’s about to get restored in a two-year project.
Capitol in 1834 with Bulfinch dome
Library of Congress
What about inside the building? The National Statuary Hall Collection has two statues from every U.S. state, and H.R. 5711 was introduced in the 111th Congress (2010) to allow U.S. territories to furnish statues for the hall too. Illinois was the first state to send a statue of a woman —educator and reformer Frances E. Willard’s statue was installed in 1905.
Restoring the Dome
Architect of the Capitol
To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi
The Capitol also contains striking artwork by Constantino Brumidi. This Italian artist came to the United States when he was almost fifty years old. Brumidi embraced American history and the United States, signing himself “C. Brumidi Artist Citizen of the U.S.” on one of his Capitol frescoes. Read more about Brumidi and his work in To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, Constantino Brumidi: Artist of the Capitol, or at the Architect of the Capitol’s Web site.
North Brumidi Corridor
Architect of the Capitol
Fun facts and more
S.R. 7, 40th Congress, 1867
Library of Congress
For those who like historical tidbits (and cider), check out joint resolution S.R. 7 from 1867 prohibiting alcoholic beverages in the Capitol . . . or the 2011 hearing on “Nuclear Energy Risk Management” before a House committee which says the granite of the Capitol building means it has “some of the highest radiation levels in all of the United States, about 85 millirem per year.” (But don’t worry, cross-examination reveals that that level is just “normal radiation exposures from natural background.”) And finally, for even more detail, historical facts, and great images, don’t forget to check out the fabulous Web site of the Architect of the Capitol – they are experts on this fascinating building!
HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?
In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:
Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)
Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling GPO’s Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
About the author: Lara Otis is an Outreach Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division.
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Posted by Trudy Hawkins
April 17, 2014
The U.S. Capitol and National Mall are a beautiful representation of the dignity and public spirit of the United States of America. This area is steeped in history, and you can learn more about the past and continued efforts to design, build, and preserve the U.S. Capitol and National Mall through many government publications.
With its famous dome celebrating its 150th anniversary in December 2013, the United States Capitol is a treasure-trove of civic art. Just released, To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi gives a detailed history of renowned Italian-born artist Constantino Brumidi’s masterful work in “making beautiful” the walls and ceilings of the United States Capitol in a span of 25 years starting in 1854. Every page delights with gorgeous, full-color photographs and images of Brumidi’s art, from photographs of the frescoes and decoration, to sketches, paintings and images of the artist, particularly the Brumidi Corridors and his “monumental fresco” in the Capitol Rotunda, called The Apotheosis of Washington. Fascinating anecdotes are included throughout of the artist and the inspirations he received for various elements, his relationship with engineer Montgomery C. Meigs, and the conservation efforts to preserve his work accurately for posterity. Read more about this publication and others about art in the Capitol in our prior blog post, National Treasure: The art and architecture of the US Capitol.
The primary oversight board for projects in the National Mall area is the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which was established by an act of Congress on May 17, 1910 in Public Law 61-181. This commission was created as an independent review agency for the work of designing the national capitol and to guide the architectural development of Washington. The commission’s role was expanded with later passage of the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 (Public Law 71-231 and Public Law 76-248), and the Old Georgetown Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-808). The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has a long history of guiding the development of the nation’s capital. Several resources are available in print and online to learn more about the commission’s history.
The National Park Service maintains a detailed guide linking to documents and reports that detail the area history. The Mall Cultural Landscape Inventory, part 2 contains several pages describing the history of the Senate Park Commission and its formation into the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts published a monograph in 2006; Designing the nation’s capital: the 1901 plan for Washington D.C. This 359 page monograph contains illustrations in color and black and white, as well as maps. The National Park Service provides full text access to this title online.
In addition to this title, several editions of this history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1910 to date were published in 1964, 1977, 1981, 1985, 1991, and 1996.
The most recent addition to the volumes available about the history of the commission is celebrates 100 years of the work of the commission. Civic Art : a centennial history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is a beautiful, 626 page monograph with illustrations, maps and plans. It is a comprehensive history of the agency and includes original essays by prominent architects and landscape architects including Arleyn Levee, Carroll William Westfall, and Richard Guy Wilson.
Another beautiful book that features some of the history of the national mall area is A Botanic Garden for the Nation: The United States Botanic Garden. You can read more about this publication in a previous post on Government Book Talk.
For more information about the U.S. Capital building, you can also check out the publications highlighted in the previous Government Book Talk post on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Capital Dome.
To read more about the history of the Smithsonian, you could visit a depository library and check out the publication, America’s Castle: the evolution of the Smithsonian Building and its institution, 1840-1878.
If you are interested in the official records of the commission, you can locate them at the National Archives. The record collection includes administrative history, annual reports, and a selection of still photographs. The records are divided between College Park, MD and Washington DC. Many of the records pertaining to the building and continued development of the National Mall are available at the National Archives, such as the National Park Service Records for the National Capital Region, and the Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital.
How Can I get this book and other publications about history of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts?
- Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this eBook or any other eBook, as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
- Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
- Shop our Retail Store:Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
- Visit a Federal Depository Library:Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.
About the author: Our guest blogger is Cathy Wagner, a GPO Outreach Librarian for the U.S. Government Printing Office’s Library Services & Content Management (LSCM) Division. Additional content, images and editing provided by Trudy Hawkins, a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).
Leave a Comment » | Art and Architecture, Award Winning Books, Commission report, Congress, Consumers, Federal Government Role, Gifts, House of Representatives, Libraries, National Park Service, Presidential Commissions, Senate, Smithsonian Institution, Travel and Tourism, U.S. Senate | Tagged: american architecture, American history, American landscape, architecture, Art, art books, art history, Arts, best history books, Botanic Garden, Botanic Gardens, castles, Constantino Brumidi, cultural landscape, dc art, DC tourism, dc tourist attraction, Fine Art, fine art comission, Fine Arts, Fine Arts Commission, free government books, free government publications, government art, government ebooks, municipal art, national mall, nations capital, NPS books, paintings, photographs, Public Law, smithsonian, us capital, washington attraction, washington dc books, washington dc tourism, Washington DC tourist attraction | Permalink
Posted by Michele Bartram, U.S. Government Online Bookstore