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A brief history of how the Washington Monument was constructed to go alongside Mall stock photos
- The Washington Monument honours the nation's first president, George Washington.
- The national monument was designed by Robert Mills whose original design called for a 600-foot Egyptian styled obelisk which would have
thirty 100-foot columns encircling the base.
- During the construction of the monument there were a number of complications and the design had to be scaled back between the two
building phases because of a lack of funding.
- The original architect Robert Mills died in 1855 and never saw the completion of his design.
- Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey & the U.S Army Corps of Engineers were chosen to resume the construction and complete the
- Time pressure & lack of funds meant that the design had to be scaled back, the height was changed from the original 600-feet to the
optimum height of 555-feet, to accommodate for ten times the width of the base and the ring of columns were scrapped.
The Washington Monument had two distinct phases of construction.
- Construction began in 1848 despite great difficulties in raising the necessary funds, by 1854 the monument had reached a height of
156-feet above ground, but as donors funds to the Washington National Monument Society came to a halt so did the building of the national monument, stopping completely in 1858.
- President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1876, in a joint resolution approved an act authorising the government to finish the
- The monument stood only partially finished for over two decades until 1878, when Lt. Col. Thomas Casey & the U.S Army Corps of
Engineers assumed control of the completing the monument, which simplified the original design of Robert Mills.
- Before construction could begin again the masons needed a supply of stone, unfortunately the stone that was quarried from nearby
Baltimore for the first phase was no longer available. A suitable match to the original stone was difficult to find but builders settled on a stone quarried in Massachusetts, but problems became
evident with the quality & colour of the stone soon after.
- After the addition of several courses of the stone from Massachusetts which left behind a brown-streak of beltline a third of the way up
the monument, the builders turned their attention to a third quarry in Baltimore that proved more reliable, and that was the stone used for the last two-thirds of the structure.
- The stone never quite matched the original, leaving three slightly different bands of colour which is still distinguistable
- To crown the monument a 3,300-pound marble capstone was placed on the obelisk and topped with a 9-inch pyramid of cast
- The monument was finally dedicated on February 21st, 1885.