Library of Congress

Imagine our surprise when we first walked into the Library of Congress!  Not like any library we had ever been in before, the enormity of it was nothing compared to the ornateness. Before I share some of the beautiful architecture and paintings we saw, let's investigate the history of this magnificent structure in our nation's capital.

Righty, American, and Lefty enjoyed the view
This is where we entered the building for our tour

Our first view of the beautiful arched ceilings

many famous authors and poets have their names in the ceiling

the fabulous skylight in the center courtyard

our view from the courtyard

stained glass window

The Library of Congress was started during John Adams' term as president. An Act of Congress allowed them to purchase 740 books and 3 maps from London.  Unfortunately the collection was destroyed during the War of 1812 when the British set fire to the building.  All 3000 books and documents were destroyed, but thanks to Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress continued.  He donated his personal library of over 6,000 books. It became the national library and soon gained 40,000 books from the Smithsonian.  Unfortunately, in1851 a large fire destroyed 2/3s of the books including many of Thomas Jefferson's original books.  Thanks to Congress, nearly $200,000 was given to replace the destroyed collection.

Part of the balustrade in the center

looking up to the beautiful mosaic ceiling

reminds us of the Sun King doesn't it?

these arched ceilings are all mosaic tiles

We found Mrs. Gibson's name immortalized!

Before long, the Library of Congress held more than just books.  Official government documents were transferred there, including many from the Founding Fathers.  The library diversified and began to obtain books from around the world, music, a Gutenberg Bible, and much, much more.  In 1965, Congress established a program to accept endowments and donations from wealthy men such as John D. Rockefeller.

sayings such as this are etched everywhere

look at this view!

ceiling arch painting

art deco elevator doors

doesn't this make you feel small?

The Library continued to expand over the years, and additional buildings were added to house the expanding collections.  The Library of Congress even has a copyright office where new manuscripts arrive daily to be copyrighted.  Even Mrs. Hoffman has several books in the Library of Congress that have registered copyrights. There are more the 838 miles of bookshelves in the LOC, more than any library in the world.  The three main buildings are the Thomas Jefferson, the John Adams, and the James Madison.

saying under the windows

doric columns

mosaic floor

design on the marble walls

you know you want to sit down!

A great interactive site - will take you on a tour of some fascinating facts in American history.  For example, you can meet amazing Americans, jump back in time, explore the states, see how people play, or check out things we see, hear, or sing like animation.  It's a great site to explore - all compliments to the Library of Congress.

So many beautiful pictures, it was hard to choose

this artist used his wife as inspiration

intriguing portrait of Minerva

If you are doing research, just go to to discover primary sources to enhance your reports or lessons in the classroom.  There is so much information, it's difficult to enumerate all of them.  Trust us when we say, take a tour of the site and you will be just as fascinated as we are.

The original building was designed by two Washington architects - John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz. Unfortunately, they were fired because of continued delays and Congress hired a civil engineer - Bernard Richard Green and Brigadier General Thomas Lincoln Casey to complete the task.  They not only finished the construction but did it under budget and returned $150,000 to Congress.

Right, American, Lefty, and Mrs. Cochrane - On Top of the World

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