Which designer is attributed to the Washington Monument?

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By Kristy Tolley

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the United States. It stands tall at 555 feet, making it the tallest stone structure in the world. Located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., the monument was built to honor the first President of the United States, George Washington. The idea for the monument was proposed in 1783, but it wasn’t until 1848 that construction began. It took over 30 years to complete, and during that time, many architects and designers were involved in the project.

The Architect of the Washington Monument

The design of the Washington Monument is attributed to Robert Mills, who was a prominent American architect during the 19th century. Mills was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1781 and studied architecture under James Hoban, the designer of the White House. Mills is best known for his work on public buildings, including the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington D.C. and the South Carolina State House.

Robert Mills: Early Life and Career

Mills was born into a wealthy family in South Carolina and was educated in England. He returned to the United States in 1802 and began working as an apprentice to James Hoban. In 1808, Mills established his own architectural firm in Washington D.C. and became one of the city’s most sought-after architects. He was known for his use of classical architecture and his attention to detail.

Mills’ Design for the Washington Monument

Mills’ design for the Washington Monument was inspired by ancient Egyptian obelisks, which were tall, slender structures with a pyramidal top. The monument was to be made of white marble and would have a hollow interior with a spiral staircase leading to an observation deck at the top. At the base of the monument, there would be a circular colonnade with 30 Doric columns.

The Controversy Surrounding Mills’ Design

Mills’ design for the Washington Monument was not without controversy. Some people felt that it was too expensive and elaborate, while others thought it was too plain and lacked ornamentation. There were also concerns about the stability of the structure, as it was to be built on marshy ground.

The Actual Construction of the Monument

Construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848, but it was soon interrupted by the Civil War. Work resumed in 1877, and the monument was finally completed in 1884. It took over 36 years to build and cost over $1 million.

The Role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played a crucial role in the construction of the Washington Monument. They were responsible for overseeing the project and ensuring that it was built to the highest standards of safety and stability.

The Monument’s Final Design and Materials

The final design of the Washington Monument closely followed Mills’ original plan. The monument was made of white marble from Maryland and was decorated with inscriptions and other ornamentation. At the top of the monument, there is a pyramidion made of aluminum, which was a highly valued metal at the time.

Completion and Dedication of the Monument

The Washington Monument was completed on December 6, 1884, and was dedicated on February 21, 1885. The dedication ceremony was attended by President Chester A. Arthur and other dignitaries. It was a proud moment for the country and a fitting tribute to its first President.

Mills’ Legacy and Other Works

Robert Mills’ legacy extends far beyond the Washington Monument. He was a prolific architect who designed many public buildings throughout the United States, including courthouses, state capitols, and public libraries. His work helped to shape the architectural landscape of the country and is still admired today.

Conclusion: The Enduring Symbol of Freedom

The Washington Monument is a symbol of freedom and democracy that stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of George Washington. It is a monument to his leadership, his vision, and his commitment to the ideals of liberty and justice. The monument is a reminder of the sacrifices that were made to secure our freedom and a call to all Americans to continue to strive for a better future.

References and Further Reading

  • "The Washington Monument: A Tribute to George Washington." National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm
  • "Robert Mills (1781-1855)." Architect of the Capitol.
  • "The Washington Monument." Architect of the Capitol.
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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