May 25

7 Intriguing Facts about the Washington Monument You Probably Don’t Know





  1. James Madison was part of the idea of monument project.

A private organization named as Washington National Monument Society was established by James Madison with John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In 1833, the organization has thought of an idea to give a tribute to the first president of the United States.


  1. In the first monument design, George Washington was depicted like a Roman with a rotunda.

Architect Robert Mills won the initial bid for the monument design. Mill’s design features an obelisk with a flat top and a chariot with the statue of Washington. The other thirty Founding Fathers of the United States were also included in the monument design.


  1. Several prominent U.S. presidents attended the 1848 cornerstone ceremony.

The ceremony had a number of well-known guests. These include Abraham Lincoln, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and James Polk, the president at that time.


  1. In order to finish the project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to work on it.

Guided by Lt. Col. Thomas Lincoln Casey, the engineers from the U.S. army have made some changes to the original design. With the purpose to reduce the costs, they focused on the simpler and lean appearance of the monument. Then they put an aluminum cap at the top of the monument as a protection on December 6, 1884. Finally, the ceremony has taken place on February 1885.


  1. The Masons were part of the monument project.

It is interesting that the Free Masons were actually part of the cornerstone ceremony attended by 20,000 people in 1848. In fact, they used masonic symbols of the first president in the ceremony. Another fascinating thing in the ceremony was a container buried in the monument cornerstone. It has all the copies of significant documents which include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution along with other objects.


  1. The Monument was a marvelous engineering work.

It’s still debatable but the monument can be considered as the tallest single masonry structure. The monument was made of marble blocks that are only bounded together by friction and gravity.


  1. The time it was dedicated, the monument was considered as the tallest building in the world.

The Washington Monument stood at 555 ft. and 5 inches tall at the time of dedication. It is only the time Eiffel Tower was built that the tower was surpassed.

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