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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Capitol Hill in Northeast Washington in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

United States Capitol Grounds

 
 
United States Capitol Grounds Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
1. United States Capitol Grounds Marker
Inscription.  
General Plan for the Improvement of the U.S. Capitol Grounds by Frederick Law Olmstead, 1874

Following the extension of the Capitol in the 1850s-1860s, the grounds were enlarged in 1872. In 1874 Congress commissioned Frederick Law Olmstead to design landscape improvements, and he soon produced this drawing which guided the project over the next two decades. He described the plan as “very simple, with the purpose of its perfect subordination in interest to the architectural design of the Capitol.” Olmstead’s objective was to provide a dignified “park-like” setting for the Capitol, with groupings of trees and expansive vistas designed to set the Capitol square apart, as an oasis from the surrounding, developing city. Today the grounds have evolved into an arboretum with hundreds of mature botanical specimens - many of which are rarely seen elsewhere.

1. Granite Lamp Piers & Bronze Fountains
Bay of Fundy Granite was used for the massive piers that Olmstead designed to hold bronze, gas-burning light fixtures. Electric sparks from copper wires and a remote battery originally
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ignited the lamps. The piers were constructed in 1875. Olmstead also designed the large granite basins, within which bronze fountains created rainbows by fine water sprays; the effect was continued at night under gas lights. The bronze was cast in 1875 by Janes, Kirkland, and Company of New York, the same firm that cast most of the ironwork for the Capitol dome. The lamps, piers, fountains and basins were restored during the Capitol Visitor Center construction project.

2. The Olmstead Terrace
Constructed in 1884-1892 on the north, west and south sides of the Capitol the marble terrace provided a strong visual platform, correcting the illusion that the massive building was about to slide down Capitol Hill. It also added much needed-space for storage, shops, and committee rooms.

3. Summerhouse
Constructed in 1879-1889, the Summerhouse offered visitors a shaded place to rest, admire views of the Capitol, and have a drink of water. Olmstead’s principal architectural assistant, Thomas Wisedell, was the designer. The Summerhouse is a tribute to the bricklayer’s craft - constructed of carved and radial brick, creating elaborate architectural features. Nestled in the hillside, the structure features a “grotto” with running water that, along with the central fountains, adds a cooling affect during the summer.
 
Erected
Granite Lamp Piers and Bronze Fountains image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
2. Granite Lamp Piers and Bronze Fountains
2009.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureArts, Letters, MusicGovernment & Politics. A significant historical year for this entry is 1874.
 
Location. 38° 53.441′ N, 77° 0.383′ W. Marker is in Northeast Washington in Washington, District of Columbia. It is in Capitol Hill. Marker can be reached from 1st Street Northeast south of Maryland Avenue Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. United States Capitol (a few steps from this marker); The Old Brick Capitol (within shouting distance of this marker); The Minuteman Memorial Building (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named The Minuteman Memorial Building (about 500 feet away); From June to December, 1917 (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (approx. 0.2 miles away); Florida House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Residence of Albert Gallatin (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Northeast Washington.
 
Additional keywords. "Ulysses S. Grant Memorial"
 
Olmstead Terrace, U.S. Capitol, west face image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
3. Olmstead Terrace, U.S. Capitol, west face
View from the Olmstead Terrace - image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
4. View from the Olmstead Terrace -
the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial (center, left) on the Capitol Grounds west plaza, at the east end of the National Mall.
The Summerhouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
5. The Summerhouse
View of U.S. Capitol from the Summerhouse - after "Snowmageddon 2010" image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
6. View of U.S. Capitol from the Summerhouse - after "Snowmageddon 2010"
United States Capitol Grounds - view from near Capitol Circle, Northeast image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, February 21, 2010
7. United States Capitol Grounds - view from near Capitol Circle, Northeast
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 30, 2023. It was originally submitted on February 23, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,313 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on February 23, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on February 24, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 14, 2024