The Washington Monument memorializes George Washington, commander of the Continental Army and first President of the United States. Even during his own lifetime, George Washington became a symbol of patriotism and civic duty. The memorial was a manifestation of this.
Robert Mills designed the original plan for the Washington Memorial. His designed featured an obelisk surrounded by colonnades. The colonnades were eventually omitted due to monetary concerns.
The Washington Monument was built in two distinct phases of construction. The first phase was from 1848 – 1854. During this time, the building and funding of the monument was managed by the Washington Monument National Society. The Society always struggled to raise money, but things truly came to a standstill when members of the Know Nothing party took over the board of governance in the mid 1850s. Construction was further interrupted during the Civil War.
Work on the monument resumed in 1876. At this time, Congress took over managing the construction from the Washington Monument National Society. They placed Thomas Casey, of the Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of supervising the work. The monument was completed in 1884.
You can see evidence of the two phases of construction in the coloration of the monument. Each period of construction took marble from a different quarry, and the change in color of the stone at the 150 ft. mark is the result.
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Virginia in 2011. Afterwards, inspectors discovered 150 some cracks in the Washington Monument and some other structural damage. They closed the monument in order to repair the damage, ensure the safety of visitors and preserve the historic building. The Washington Monument initially reopened in 2014, only to be closed a while later due to issues with the elevator.
The Washington Monument officially reopened early this month on 19 September 2019. The new elevator is modern and designed to withstand the heavy long term use and large numbers of visitors. On the way up to the viewing deck, visitors can see the 193 commemorative stones.
Visiting the newly reopened Washington Monument is the perfect way to commemorate your trip to DC. This 555 ft and 5 1/8 in building, the largest freestanding stone structure in the world, is a leisurely morning walk or a short metro trip away from our Dupont Circle bed and breakfast.