THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT

THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT 

asla.org
asla.org

The Washington Monument is an obelisk of monumental proportions. To build such a narrow obelisk, yet achieve the height of 555 feet, 5 /18 inches, was an unheard of accomplishment in 1848.

Robert Mills, the architectural designer of the monument was a Freemason. (I thought you conspiracy theorists would love that fact!) He was perhaps the most famous student of the Irish architect, James Hoben. James Hoben, also a Freemason, was the architectural designer of The White House. (Another fact for the conspiracy theorist- James Hoben was also a Freemason.)

In 1833, The Washington Monument National Monument Society, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, was formed to raise funds for a memorial fitting for our nation’s first president. Chief Justice John Marshall was not only a Freemason, but he was Grand Master of the Mason of Virginia from 1794-1795.  (The plot thickens!)

In the original design of The Washington Monument there were to be the statues of all 30 of the original signers of The Declaration of Independence encircling the 600 feet tall edifice.

The Washington Monument was also to include President Washington, himself, riding in a chariot, urging on his team of horses. (Huh???)

A far more simplified version of the monument was began after President James Polk set aside land near the Potomac River.

Construction was started July 4th, 1848. The bluestone gneiss foundation of the monument was competed during its first year of construction.

The walls were raised to 157 feet before the funding for the project became harder to find.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the construction of the monument was put on hold.

After 25 years of being an eye-sore, Lt. Col. Thomas Casey was asked to continue work on the project. Architects and engineers are still amazed at the results of this ambitious undertaking.

Upon the completion of the monument, it was the tallest edifice in the entire world. What make the feat even more astounding, the building was constructed on swamp land!

At the dedication of The Washington Monument, tens of thousands of people were in attendance. The ladies and children were required to enter and ascend the monument by the 898 steps. The men were allowed to ride in a steam-driven elevator. The elevator was deemed too dangerous for the ladies and the children? (To ride the steam elevator to the top of the monument took 20 minutes. Usually, the ladies and the children were awaiting the men.)

Interesting Facts:

  • Today, the base of The Washington Monument is ringed with 50 flags.
  • The Washington Monument is still the tallest building in Washington, D.C. By law, no other building is allowed to be built taller than the monument.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Companionable.”

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