Top of page

Know Your Marble

Share this post:

Wall is Light and Dark Rose from St. Genevieve, Missouri. Pedestal and base is Westfield Green from Massachusetts. Elevator lobby of fifth floor, Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C. Photograph by Carol Highsmith, 2007.

If you have ever visited Washington, D.C., one of the first things you may have noticed is the amount of marble used in the buildings (exterior and interior), monuments, and statues throughout the city. For instance you can find Colorado Yule at the Lincoln Memorial;  Cockeysville, Sheffield and Texas marble at the Washington Monument; and Italian Carrara marble at the Kennedy Center. You can also find great examples of marble at the  Library of Congress and its John Adams Building features varieties from several regions of the United States.

In one of my explorations of the LC Archives, I discovered a memorandum dated November 16, 1939 from Mr. Horace D. Rouzer, the Associate Architect of the Capitol. In this memo he described a phone call the office received from “a man whose home is in Utah” who complained that the guards in the Annex ( Adams Building) did not have the correct information about the marble used in the door trim of the entrance vestibule. This caller must have recognized the Nebo Golden Travis marble from his home state and the guard had told him otherwise. Mr. Rouzer attached a list of all the kinds of marble and stone used in the Adams Building, along with locations, to assist the guards in providing correct information to the public.

double brass door with glass inserts surrounded by two different marbles
Nebo Golden Travis marble from Utah (door trim) and Travertine from Montana (walls). Entrance vestibule, Library of Congress, John Adams Building (2011)

I find it amazing that almost seventy three years later I have uncovered this useful list and am able to share it with you. Also, for those of us who work in this building, we now have a reliable list to consult when visitors ask us about the marble.

And in case you were wondering:

The exterior of the John Adams Building is made of White Georgia Marble from Tate, Georgia and North Carolina Pink Granite from Greensboro, North Carolina.

The interior contains the following marbles and stones:

  • Alabama White from Alabama
  • Cardiff Green from Cardiff, Maryland
  • Light Tennessee and Phantasia Roseal from Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Nebo Golden Travis from Utah
  • Golden Vein, Light and Dark Rose, and Botticino from St. Genevieve, Missouri
  • Travertine from Montana
  • Westfield Green from Westfield, Massachusetts

Thank you Mr. Rouzer and the man from Utah!

Comments (5)

  1. Thanks for the great info.

    Would you please fix the orientation of the enlarged version shown when clicking on the Entrance vestibule, Library of Congress, John Adams Building photo?

    • Sarah – Sorry I have not posted your comment earlier but fixing the orientation is harder than it seems and it had to be bumped up to someone with more access.

  2. How many tons of marble were used to make the library of congress in all?

  3. How many tons of marble were used to make the library of congress in all?

    • Greetings, Thank you for writing in, this is a great question. When you say the Library of Congress in all, are you asking for the tons of marble for all three library building on the Capitol Hill campus: Jefferson, Adams, and Madison buildings? I have seen an estimate just need to figure out where I read it. I will get back soon with the answer.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.