The Info List - Thomas Jefferson Building

--- Advertisement ---

The oldest of the three United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
buildings, the Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It was originally known as the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Building and is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
The Beaux-Arts style building is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. Its design and construction has a tortuous history; the building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey
Edward Pearce Casey
during the last few years of construction. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.


1 Design 2 History 3 Book Conveying Apparatus 4 Capitol Page School 5 Coolidge Auditorium 6 Art 7 See also 8 References

8.1 Sources

9 External links


The Main Reading Room

View of approaches from the west façade of the Thomas Jefferson Building

The Great Hall, View of first and second floors, with Minerva mosaic in background

John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz
Paul J. Pelz
won the competition for the architectural plans of the library in 1873. The start of the project was delayed by congressional debates until a vote in 1886. In 1888, Smithmeyer was dismissed and Pelz became the lead architect. Pelz was himself dismissed in 1892 and replaced by Edward Pearce Casey, the son of Brig. Gen. Thomas Lincoln Casey, Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who at the time was in charge of the building's construction.[1] While Smithmeyer was instrumental in securing the commission, Pelz appears to have been the main designer of the building and oversaw most of the exterior work. Casey is credited for the completion of the interiors and the artistic supervision of the building's unique decorative program.[2] The Library
opened to the public in 1897 and the finishing work was completed in 1898. The Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building, containing some of the richest public interiors in the United States, is a compendium of the work of classically trained American sculptors and painters[3] of the "American Renaissance", in programs of symbolic content that exhibited the progress of civilization, personified in Great Men and culminating in the American official culture of the Gilded Age;[4] the programs were in many cases set out by the Librarian of Congress, Ainsworth Rand Spofford. The central block is broadly comparable to the Palais Garnier in Paris, a similarly ambitious expression of triumphant cultural nationalism in the Beaux-Arts style that had triumphed at the World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
in Chicago, 1893. On the exterior, sculptured portrait heads that were considered typical of the world's races were installed as keystones on the main storey's window arches. The second-floor portico of the front entrance facing the U.S. Capitol features nine prominent busts of Great Men as selected by Ainsworth Rand Spofford in accordance with Gilded Age
Gilded Age
ideals. From left to right when one faces the building, they are Demosthenes
(portico north side), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Babbington Macaulay, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott
and Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
(portico south side). The sculptors were Herbert Adams, Jonathan Scott Hartley and Frederick W. Ruckstull. The Court of Neptune Fountain
The Court of Neptune Fountain
centered on the entrance front invites comparison with the Trevi Fountain; its sculptor was Roland Hinton Perry. The copper dome, originally gilded, was criticized at the structure's completion, as too competitive with the national Capitol Building. History[edit]

Library of Congress
Library of Congress
building, c. 1902

Needing more room for its increasing collection, the Library
of Congress under Librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford
Ainsworth Rand Spofford
suggested to the Congress that a new building be built specifically to serve as the American national library. Prior to this the Library
existed in a wing of the Capitol Building. The new building was needed partly because of the growing Congress, but also partly because of the Copyright Law
Copyright Law
of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work. This resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints and photographs. Spofford had been instrumental in the enactment of this law. After Congress approved construction of the building in 1886, it took eleven years to complete. The building opened to the public on November 1, 1897, met with wide approval and was immediately seen as a national monument. The building name was changed on June 13, 1980 to honor former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, who had been a key figure in the establishment of the Library
in 1800. Jefferson offered to sell his personal book collection to Congress in September 1814, one month after the British had burned the Capitol in the War of 1812.

Inside the book tunnel

Book Conveying Apparatus[edit] Prior to the 2000s, the Jefferson Building was linked to the Capitol Building by a purpose built book tunnel.[5] This housed an electric "book conveying apparatus" that could transport volumes between the two buildings at 600 feet per minute.[6] A portion of the book tunnel was destroyed to make room for the underground Capitol Visitor Center, which opened in 2008. Capitol Page School[edit] Senate, House and Supreme Court pages formerly attended school together in the Capitol Page School located on the attic level above the Great Hall. Upon the separation of the programs (and the closure of the Supreme Court Page Program), the schools split. Senate Pages now attend school in the basement of their dormitory. The House Page Program was closed in August 2011. A small suite in the northwest corner of the attic level remains home to the official office of the Poet Laureate of the United States. Coolidge Auditorium[edit] The Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
Auditorium, which opened in October, 1925, has been home to more than 2,000 concerts, primarily of classical chamber music, but occasionally also of jazz, folk music, and special presentations.[7] Some performances make use of the Library's extensive collection of musical instruments and manuscripts. Most of the performances are free and open to the public. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
was a wealthy patron of the arts and was no relation to Calvin Coolidge, who, coincidentally, was President of the United States at the time the Coolidge auditorium was established. Art[edit] More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art.[3]

Art at the Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Olin Levi Warner, tympanum representing Writing, above exterior of main entrance doors, 1896

Henry Oliver Walker, Lyric Poetry, 1896

Erotica, one of the eight panels representing literature by George Randolph Barse (1861-1938)

Gari Melchers, Mural of War, 1896

Gari Melchers, Mural of Peace, 1896

Elihu Vedder, Minerva of Peace, 1896

Edward Emerson Simmons, Melpomene, 1896

Charles Sprague Pearce, Labor, 1896

Charles Sprague Pearce, Religion, 1896

Mural paintings at the corridor

Mural painting, Northeastern Pavilion by Elmer E. Garnsey

A portion of Edwin Blashfield's Evolution of Civilization, located on the dome above the Main Reading Room, 1895

See also[edit]

Paul J. Pelz John Adams
John Adams
Building James Madison
James Madison
Memorial Building List of National Historic Landmarks in Washington, D.C.


^ Cronau, Rudolf (1916). German Achievements in America. New York: Rudolf Cronau. pp. 204–205.  ^ Cole, John Y. (October 1972). "Smithmeyer & Pelz: Embattled Architects of the Library
of Congress". The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
(Vol. 29, No. 4). (Registration required (help)).  ^ a b "On These Walls". Library
of Congress. April 4, 2017. Retrieved January 12, 2018. Over forty artists were commissioned to produce sculpture, bas-relief panels, frescoes and empanelled canvases, and designs for mosaic.  ^ According to a contemporary guidebook, "America is justly proud of this gorgeous and palatial monument to its National sympathy and appreciation of Literature, Science, and Art". ^ Carter, Elliot. "There's a Hidden Conveyor Belt Under the Capitol That Was Just for Moving Books". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2016-06-12.  ^ Logan, Mrs. John A. (1901). Thirty Years in Washington. Hartford, Connecticut: A. D. WORTHINGTON & CO. pp. 433–436. Retrieved January 12, 2018.  ^ "About the Coolidge Auditorium". Library
of Congress. August 31, 2004. Retrieved January 12, 2018. 


Architect of the Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
" Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building Architecture." Accessed 2011-12-18. Library
of Congress. " Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building: A Brief History of the Library." Accessed 2011-12-18.

External links[edit] Media related to Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building at Wikimedia Commons

v t e

United States Capitol
United States Capitol

United States Capitol


Congressional office buildings: Cannon

House Library

Ford Longworth Rayburn O'Neill (demolished, 2002)


Appropriations Committee Suite Senate Reception Room Senate chamber

Old Senate Chamber

Congressional office buildings: Dirksen Hart

Mountains and Clouds


Senate Library

of Congress

Adams Jefferson Madison

Law Library
of Congress Mary Pickford Theater

Individual features


Statue of Freedom The Apotheosis of Washington


Declaration of Independence painting Frieze of American History Surrender of General Burgoyne Surrender of Lord Cornwallis General George Washington Resigning His Commission

National Statuary Hall

Statues Crypt Hall of Columns

Brumidi Corridors Apotheosis of Democracy First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States Revolutionary War Door Washington at Princeton Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way Vice Presidential Bust Collection President's Room Vice President's Room Congressional Prayer Room Old Supreme Court Chamber Washington's Tomb Visitor Center

Lincoln Catafalque


Botanic Garden Grant Memorial Judiciary Building Power Plant Reflecting Pool Subway System Supreme Court Building Union Square Senate Page Residence Pennsylvania Avenue

v t e

Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States
President of the United States
(1801–1809) 2nd U.S. Vice President (1797–1801) 1st U.S. Secretary of State (1790–1793) U.S. Minister to France (1785–1789) 2nd Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
(1779–1781) Delegate, Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress

Founding documents of the United States

A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774) Initial draft, Olive Branch Petition
Olive Branch Petition
(1775) Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775) 1776 Declaration of Independence

Committee of Five authored physical history "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed"

1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

freedom of religion

French Revolution

Co-author, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen


Inaugural Address (1801 1805) Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves Louisiana Purchase Lewis and Clark Expedition

Corps of Discovery timeline Empire of Liberty

Red River Expedition Pike Expedition Cumberland Road Embargo Act of 1807

Chesapeake–Leopard affair Non-Intercourse Act of 1809

First Barbary War Native American policy Marbury v. Madison West Point Military Academy State of the Union Addresses (texts 1801 1802 1805) Cabinet Federal judicial appointments

Other noted accomplishments

Early life and career Founder, University of Virginia


Land Ordinance of 1784

Northwest Ordinance 1787

Anti-Administration party Democratic-Republican Party Jeffersonian democracy

First Party System republicanism

Plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measure of the United States (1790) Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801)

Jeffersonian architecture

Barboursville Farmington Monticello


Poplar Forest University of Virginia

The Rotunda The Lawn

Virginia State Capitol White House
White House

Other writings

Notes on the State of Virginia
Notes on the State of Virginia
(1785) 1787 European journey memorandums Indian removal letters Jefferson Bible
Jefferson Bible
(1895) Jefferson manuscript collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society The Papers of Thomas Jefferson


Age of Enlightenment American Enlightenment American Philosophical Society American Revolution


Member, Virginia Committee of Correspondence Committee of the States Founding Fathers of the United States Franco-American alliance Jefferson and education Religious views Jefferson and slavery Jefferson and the Library
of Congress Jefferson disk Jefferson Pier Pet mockingbird National Gazette Residence Act

Compromise of 1790

Sally Hemings

Jefferson–Hemings controversy Betty Hemings

Separation of church and state Swivel chair The American Museum magazine Virginia dynasty


United States Presidential election 1796 1800 1804


Bibliography Jefferson Memorial Mount Rushmore Birthday Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Center for the Protection of Free Expression Jefferson Lecture Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Star for Foreign Service Jefferson Lab Monticello
Association Jefferson City, Missouri Jefferson College Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
School of Law Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
University Washington and Jefferson National Forests Other placenames Currency depictions

Jefferson nickel Two-dollar bill

U.S. postage stamps

Popular culture

Ben and Me (1953 short) 1776 (1969 musical 1972 film) Jefferson in Paris
Jefferson in Paris
(1995 film) Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
(1997 film) Liberty! (1997 documentary series) Liberty's Kids
Liberty's Kids
(2002 animated series) John Adams
John Adams
(2008 miniseries) Jefferson's Garden (2015 play) Hamilton (2015 musical) Jefferson–Eppes Trophy Wine bottles controversy


Peter Jefferson
Peter Jefferson
(father) Jane Randolph Jefferson
Jane Randolph Jefferson
(mother) Lucy Jefferson Lewis (sister) Randolph Jefferson (brother) Isham Randolph (grandfather) William Randolph
William Randolph
(great-grandfather) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
(wife) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
Randolph (daughter) Mary Jefferson Eppes (daughter) Harriet Hemings
Harriet Hemings
(daughter) Madison Hemings
Madison Hemings
(son) Eston Hemings
Eston Hemings
(son) Thomas J. Randolph (grandson) Francis Eppes (grandson) George W. Randolph
George W. Randolph
(grandson) John Wayles Jefferson
John Wayles Jefferson
(grandson) Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
(son-in-law) John Wayles Eppes (son-in-law) John Wayles (father-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr
(brother-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr

← John Adams James Madison
James Madison


Coordinates: 38°53′19″N 77°00′17″W / 38.8887°N 77.0046°W /