Monday, February 15, 2010

Washington Monument Souvenir Buildings

What is officially called Washington's Birthday, today's U.S. Federal Holiday, is sometimes called Presidents Day. Perhaps people wanted to also commemorate President Lincoln on this day. I've written previously about souvenirs and memorials related to Lincoln, so lets explore souvenirs related to George Washington. There are many monuments and memorials to Washington around the country. Everyone knows the famous obelisk in Washington D.C., but the very first monument to Washington was built in Baltimore. This Washington Monument was the first monument completed to recognise George Washington. In 1815, a statue and column was designed by Robert Mills - who also designed the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Construction began in the Baltimore neighborhood of Mount Vernon in 1815 and was completed by 1829. The 178 foot white marble doric column holds a ground-floor museum offering information about Washington as well as construction of the monument. Climbing the 228 steps to the top provides an excellent view of the city from the historic neighborhood where it is located. The monument consists of three main elements: a low, rectangular base; an unfluted column and a standing figure of Washington. InFocusTech makes a replica of the Baltimore Washington Monument finished in new pewter which stands 6 1/2 inches tall. The memorial to the first U.S. President, George Washington, everyone knows is the towering Washington Monument in the city named after him, Washington, D.C. The Washington monument, made of marble, granite and sandstone, is both the world's tallest stone structure
and the world's tallest obelisk, standing 555 feet 5⅛ inches (169.294 m). (There are taller monumental columns, but they are neither all stone nor true obelisks.) It is also the tallest structure in Washington D.C. Construction began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884 - 36 years later. This hiatus in construction happened because of co-option by the Know Nothing party, a lack of funds and the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet up, shows where construction was halted for a number of years. The aluminum capstone was set on December 6, 1884 and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, but didn't officially opened October 9, 1888. It became the world's tallest structure and held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris. Souvenirs of the Washington Monument can be very common, but a few are older and rare with unusual design aspects. I've seen monuments made from materials including cast iron, bakelite, plastic, metal and with uses such as S&P shakers, pencil sharpeners, thermometers and more. Today, replicas are being made in resin, plastic, lucite and pot metal. Also, don't forget Mount Vernon which also has had miniature building souvenirs of Washington's historic home.

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