American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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The U.S. Capitol

Sectional elevation Showing the U.S. Capitol Conference Room
Stephen Hallet (1755-1825)
[Sectional elevation Showing the
U.S. Capitol Conference Room]

Ink and watercolor on paper, 1793
Prints & Photographs Division

The Chamber for the House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol
Stephen Hallet (1755-1825)
[The Chamber for the House of
Representatives in the U.S. Capitol]

Ink, graphite, and watercolor on paper, 1793
Prints & Photographs Division
LC-USZC4-1094

[Revised design for the Capitol] perspectives, east and north front
Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820)
[Revised design for the Capitol]
perspectives, east and north front

Graphite, ink, and watercolor on paper, 1806
Prints & Photographs Division
LC-USZC4-1090
LC-USZ62-37197

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sought the best talents to design the United States Capitol, the architectural centerpiece of the federal district. For the initial design competition, French-trained Stephen Hallet submitted these two masterful renderings. The first drawing is of Hallet's masterful rendering for the great "Conference Room," itself. Never built, its domed form is echoed today in the Rotunda, the symbolic and functional core of our government. The second Hallet drawing shows the interior of the chamber designed for the House of Representatives and the exterior of the great "Conference room," where the House and the Senate were to meet in joint session to work out their differences and where the President would deliver his addresses on the "State of the Union."

Thomas Jefferson appointed Benjamin Henry Latrobe "Surveyor of the Public Buildings" of the United States, making him the architect in charge of the completion of the Capitol and the White House, as well as many other projects. A brilliant designer and consummate draftsman, Latrobe is considered the father of the professions of architecture and engineering in this country. Jefferson and Latrobe were responsible for the projected design extending the Capitol's portico and adding a large staircase, which led visitors directly to the entrance of the newly conceived "Hall of the People" or Rotunda, thus making the entire structure more accessible.

 

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