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March 29, 1867 is the day Congress approved the Lincoln Memorial. The monument is the newest of the major iconic structures in Washington, D.C. – coming after the Capitol, White House and Washington Monument.
D.C. joggers typically loop around here and start heading the two miles toward the Capitol. Photo: National Park Service.
Original Would-Be Contractor
Sculptor Clark Mills was originally commissioned to design the monument. He proposed a multi-tiered, 36-figure, bronze sculpted monument — with a seated Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation at its peak. Lack of funds torpedoed this effort.
Rebirth of the Project
A Lincoln Memorial Commission was created by Congress on February 9, 1911 to resurrect the project with a $300,000 allocation. Henry Bacon, the project’s architect, chose a classic Greek Doric temple design. He felt the memorial would “testify forever to the reverence and honor which attended their erection, and the impression of their dignity and stateliness on the mind of the beholder will be augmented by their surroundings.” Daniel Chester French carved the famed seated statue of Lincoln. The duo worked together on over 50 public projects.
A project of this size needed the help of many other contractors such as:
- Vermont Marble Company – marble for the exterior
- Piccirilli Brothers – Carving of the statue (The company would later carve Vermont Marble Company materials again for the Tomb of the Unknowns)
- Evelyn Beatrice Longman – Assisted French and created inscriptions and ornamentation
- Jules Guerin – Painted the two large murals
- Royal Cortissoz – Wrote the inscription above the memorial
- Ernest C. Bairstow – Created the decorative carving on the stonework of the buildingt
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