Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States. The neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope. It was built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain. Construction began in 1939, the building was completed in 1943, and the bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947.

The Memorial started in 1934 when President Franklin Roosevelt, an admirer of Jefferson himself, inquired to the Commission of Fine Arts about the possibility of erecting a memorial to Jefferson, including it in the plans for the Federal Triangle project, which was under construction at the time. Later the same year, Congressman John J. Boylan jumped off FDR's starting point and urged Congress to create the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission. Boylan was appointed the Commission's first chairman and Congress eventually appropriated $3 million for a memorial to Jefferson. (Continued below)

Photo 102, Nov 2011

Jefferson Memorial

(Continued from above)
The Commission chose John Russell Pope as the architect in 1935. Pope was also the architect of the National Archives Building and original (west) building of the National Gallery of Art. He prepared four different plans for the project, each on a different site. One was on the Anacostia River at the end of East Capitol Street; one at Lincoln Park; one on the south side of the National Mall across from the National Archives; and one situated on the Tidal Basin, directly south of the White House. The Commission preferred the site on the Tidal Basin mainly because it was the most prominent site and because it completed the four-point plan called for by the McMillan Commission (Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol; White House to the Tidal Basin site). Pope designed a very large pantheon-like structure, to sit on a square platform, and to be flanked by two smaller, rectangular, colonnaded buildings.

In 1939, the Memorial Commission hosted a competition to select a sculptor for the planned statue in the center of the Memorial. They received 101 entries and chose six finalists. Of the six, Rudulph Evans was chosen as the main sculptor and Adolph A. Weinman was chosen to sculpt the pediment relief situated above the entrance.

The Jefferson Memorial was officially dedicated by President Roosevelt on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birthday. At that time, Evans' statue had not yet been finished. Due to material shortages during World War II, the statue that was installed at the time was a plaster cast of Evans' work painted to look like bronze. The finished bronze statue was installed in 1947, having been cast by the Roman Bronze Company of New York.

Photo 115, Nov 2011

Jefferson Memorial

Photo 119, Nov 2011

Jefferson Memorial

From the MLK Memorial

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Jefferson Memorial Pediment

The pediment features Adolph A. Weinman's sculpture of the five members of the Declaration of Independence drafting committee submitting their report to Congress.

Photo 130, Nov 2011

Jefferson Memorial

Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, and resembling structures that Jefferson himself built at Monticello and the University of Virginia, the Jefferson Memorial pays tribute to one of America's great statesmen and political philosophers.

The graceful domed structure was designed by John Russell Pope, architect of the National Gallery of Art, and sits alongside the Potomac River Tidal Basin amid beautifully landscaped grounds lined with cherry trees. Groundbreaking on its construction occurred in 1938, and the memorial was dedicated by President Roosevelt on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth.

On first approach, its location seems somewhat obscure, compared with the powerful axis on which the Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial lay. But ascend the stairs to the memorial, and you discover why it is here — the statue of Jefferson has an unimpeded view across the ellipse into the south side of the White House, and on a map the memorial forms a perfect north-south line across the Mall to the Executive Mansion.

Photo 206, Nov 2008

Jefferson Memorial

Photo 219, Nov 2008

Jefferson Memorial

Photo 220, Nov 2008

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