{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/inside_adams.php' }

The Capitol Dome: The Competition

The exterior restoration on the Capitol dome is winding down. The scaffolding is coming down, and the dome got a fresh coat of paint. Since the interior work is still ongoing, I wanted to write another post.

The first post I wrote two years ago contained an image with a list of some of those people and businesses involved in erecting the dome. Instead of focusing on one firm, Janes, Fowler, & Kirtland, as I did for my second post, this time I wanted to see what the competition was for those firms that got contracts. While the 1863 Washington, D.C. city business directory only provided information for businesses listed in that year and not necessarily all the companies that were in business for the entire project, it still seemed like a good place to start.

Turners1863I started with the turners, where I had expected to see a number of people listed. But as it turns out, there were only three, one of whom was William P. Webb, who ultimately got the job. Maybe the skills involved in turning meant there weren’t many who went into that line of business.

plumbers gassfitters1863Then I moved on to plumbers to see what the competition was like for J. W. Thompson & Co.. It seems that he at least faced a bit more competition, because there were fourteen “plumbers & gasfitters” listed, including Thompson.

I had wanted to focus on the paint and glass sellers separately, but in the directory they were grouped together under “paints, oils, and glass.” I had expected to find more businesses than the four that were listed. I was looking for several firms, including J. N. McGregor, A. Hatch, H. H. McPherson, W. H. Gilman, and S. Roe & Co., none of which were listed. glass oil1863But I had some luck with two of the other names – Howell & Morsell and C. S. Whittlesey. C. S. Whittlesey was listed and sold paints, oils &c., and while Howell & Morsell was not listed, there was one for John W. Morsell who provided glass for the project.

saddles1863The last thing I looked at were the saddle makers. Here I got what I expected, because there were eighteen firms in Washington and Georgetown that sold harnesses, saddles, and tack. While I didn’t see Lutz & Beall listed as a single firm, there were separate listings for Francis A. Lutz and Horatio Beall.

I have read about Washington’s history, written posts, and answered questions about the people, places, and businesses in the nation’s capital, but what I still find interesting, is how much the city has changed geographically. During the war, “Washington” was much smaller than many people may realize. Georgetown was its own place within the District of Columbia while the city of Washington consisted mostly of what is now downtown, the area nearest to the Capitol, and the land down to the Potomac and southwest near the navy yard and the Arsenal. The work of those who lived in Washington and built the Capitol dome lasted over 150 years. Hopefully the work being done now will last even longer.

Early photographic view of Washington, D.C. from Capitol Hill, looking northwest. ca. 1863 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c27628

Photograph of the view of Washington, D.C. from Capitol Hill, looking northwest. ca. 1863 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c27628

If you are interested in knowing more about the current dome restoration project, the Architect of the Capitol has a web page and a page on Pinterest devoted to the restoration as well as a Twitter feed and information on their Facebook page.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission to an Asteroid: May 24 Lecture with Dr. Jason P. Dworkin

The public is invited to a free talk called “OSIRIS-REx: The First U.S. Mission to Return Samples from an Asteroid to Earth” with Dr. Jason P. Dworkin in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the Madison Building on Tuesday, May 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. OSIRIS-REx. Does it sound a bit […]

Wild Bird Parties All Year Long: Authors’ Talk on May 26

Today’s guest post is by ST&B’s upcoming speakers, Paul J. Baicich and Margaret A. Barker, who will present “The Surprising History of Bird Feeding,” based on their book (written with colleague Carrol L. Henderson), Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce and Conservation (Texas A&M University Press, 2015). Books will be for sale at the […]

One Health Lecture May 18: Dr. Bernadette Dunham

The following is a guest blog by Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D. and Tomoko Y. Steen, Ph.D. of the Science, Technology and Business Division The One Health concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals, and the environment. It recognizes the interconnections of human […]

World Energy Transformation Lecture May 5: Physicist Gong Ping (G.P.) Yeh of the Fermi Lab

Dr. Gong Ping (G.P.) Yeh, world renowned high energy physicist, will be speaking at the Library of Congress on Thursday, May 5, 2015. His lecture, World Energy Transformation: Asia and Beyond, will address sustainable energy and improving energy efficiencies. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Science Technology & Business Division and the LC Asian American […]

The Science of Interstellar: May 3 Lecture with Dr. Jeremy Schnittman

The public is invited to a free talk called “The Science of Interstellar: Life on Planets Around Black Holes” with Dr. Jeremy Schnittman in the Pickford Theater on third floor of the Madison Building on Tuesday, May 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Jeremy Schnittman is a research astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight […]

Dorie Clark, Author of “Stand Out,” Speaking on April 12

On Tuesday, April 12, Dorie Clark will be speaking at the Library of Congress about her most recent book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It (Portfolio/Penguin, 2015). She will explain how to identify the ideas that set you apart, promote them successfully, and build a community of […]

Stranger than Fiction

This guest post was written by Constance Carter who recently retired as head of Science Reference after 50 years of service at the Library of Congress. But being the dedicated librarian that she is, she now volunteers her considerable talents. The Science Reference Section has an extraordinary collection of 19th-century community and commercial cookbooks—some of […]

James Johnston speaking about Yarrow Mamout on April 6

Curious about a portrait of “Old Yarrow” by James Alexander Simpson that hangs in the Peabody Room of Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown public library, James J. Johnston a journalist and attorney decided he wanted to know more and eventually ended up writing a book From Slave Ship to Harvard. The portrait “Old Yarrow” was of Yarrow […]