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Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Iron work. West Main, Center. Brass inlay in tile and mosaic floor. Zodiac signs Virgo (Virgin); Taurus (Bull). First story. Drawing by H. Sill, December 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.88579

More Jefferson Building Drawings Digitized

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The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is one of the more ornately decorated buildings in Washington, D.C. When visitors walk into the Great Hall, they usually look up and around, taking in the painted murals, sculpted details, the colorful glass skylight, and the monumental scale of the space.

Great Hall. View of ceiling with bronze statue of female figure on newel post holding a torch of electric light. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2009 April 26. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.11671

Today, we will instead talk about the floor beneath visitors’ feet in the Great Hall, which is also elaborately decorated, as seen below in this photo taken from the mezzanine:

Great Hall. View from above of the zodiac in the marble floor. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2007. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.01954

The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building celebrated its 125th birthday in November of 2022. To support research interest in the building and to mark the occasion, we digitized nearly 1000 architectural drawings documenting its construction. One such drawing shows some of the details of the mosaic and marble floor in the Great Hall, as indicated on the right-hand side of the drawing:

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Marblework. West Main. Tile and Mosaic floor, first story. Plans. Design by Edward Pearce Casey, August 13, 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.67594

The set of drawings we scanned has an original numbering system. Underneath the text indicating we are looking at marblework designs for the floor, you can see “768” on the drawing above, at right. And as you might expect with drawings created over 125 years ago, there are occasional gaps in the set. One such gap I noticed related to this floor, as we did not have drawings 802 through 807. In the squares that march around the outside edge of the floor are brass inlays of the twelve signs of the zodiac, alternating with inlaid flowers. But the drawing set we have only included drawings of four of the signs and nothing of the other brass inlays.

Happily, a recent find within our unprocessed collections filled in the rest of this particular story, with drawings 802 through 807. Drawings of the other eight zodiac signs, three flower designs used between them, and an oversized drawing in two parts of the sunlike compass rose at the very center, are now cataloged into the original set. These new additions have been scanned as well. Please enjoy a few of them below:

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Iron work. West Main, Center. Brass inlay in tile and mosaic floor. Zodiac signs Virgo (Virgin); Taurus (Bull). First story. Drawing by H. Sill, December 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.88579
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Iron work. West Main, Center. Brass inlay in tile and mosaic floor. Flowers. First story. Drawing by H. Sill, December 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.88584

This detail photo shows Scorpio and two of the flowers:

Detail of Great Hall. View from above of the zodiac in the marble floor. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2007. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.01954
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Iron work. [West Main, Center. Brass inlay in tile and mosaic floor. Zodiac signs Scorpio (Scorpion); Capricorn (Goat). First story. Drawing by H. Sill, December 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.88580
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Iron work. West Main, Center. Brass inlay in tile and mosaic floor. Compass rose. First story. Drawing by H. Sill, December 1895. https://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.88581

 

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Comments

  1. What a great discovery! Thanks for the details – and for reminding us to look down as well as up!

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