Friday, September 18, 2009

Capitol Matters

Magnet # 39:  U.S. Capitol Building

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

George Washington laid down the Cornerstone of the Capitol Building at a groundbreaking ceremony on this day in 1793.  The event had been a long time in coming.  Congress had moved from Philadelphia to Annapolis to Trenton to New York City and finally back to Philadelphia in the course of ten years.  And soon it would be time for them to have a building of their own.

By November of 1800, Congress was able to meet in the north wing, although not all of the building was completed.  Soon after both wings were finished, however, the British set part of the building afire during the War of 1812.  So in 1815, another four years of construction began.

The dome, one of the Capitol's most distinguishing features, has not always been a part of the building.  The first dome was completed in 1823 and it was made of green copper.  It was pretty unpopular, however, and only lasted a little more than 20 years.  When it became obvious that a larger building was necessary for a growing Congress, extensions were made to both wings.  With all of the construction already underway, it was an ideal time to create a new dome.  The intricate cast iron dome we all know began planning in 1854, and all construction was not completed until early 1866.  When finished, its aesthetics rivaled that of its predecessors such as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and St. Paul's Cathedral in London, giving Washington D.C. a newfound sense of majesty.

One of the more interesting facts I've learned about the Capitol Building is that there is a crypt under the rotunda.  It was intended to hold the tomb of George Washington.  However, per his will, he was buried at his home, Mount Vernon.  I guess they never offered it to any other Presidents or noteworthy officials.  Because of its vacancy, it now serves as a museum that is open to visitors, and, most importantly, a Capitol gift shop.  How fun would is be to buy a magnet in a crypt!  I guess I will have to visit the Capitol someday for that very reason.  I just hope they have one that's not the outside of the building.  As far as I'm concerned, no Capitol magnet can match the detail or clarity of this one, both of which make it a favorite of mine.

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