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Building The Library

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.Created by: PICRYLDated: 1897
[Sheds, piles of bricks and workers during construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Capitol in the background]
The Library of Congress Building or the Jefferson Building is the oldest of the four United States Library of Congress buildings, built between 1890 and 1897 in Washington, DC. It is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street.

The new building was needed because of the Copyright Law of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work. This resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints, and photographs. After Congress approved construction of the building in 1886, it took eleven years to complete.

The building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, born in Prussian Silesia, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, a native of Vienna, Austria, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction. More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art.

The building opened to the public on November 1, 1897, met with wide approval and was immediately seen as a national monument. The building name was changed on June 13, 1980 to honor former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.
388 Media in collectionpage 1 of 4
[The Library of Congress in the U.S. Capitol Building]

[The Library of Congress in the U.S. Capitol Building]

Photograph of an engraving. Title and date from Ten First Street, Southeast: Congress Builds a Library, 1886-1897 / Helen-Anne Hilker. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1980, p. 60, no. 8.

[Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building. Second story showing third tier of alcoves]

[Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building. Second story showing ...

Competition drawing showing second story alcoves, clerks offices, and chart rooms as plan. Inscription: "Plan of second story showing third tier of alcoves" ; "Scale 1/16 in. = one foot" ; "Samuel Sloan, archit... More

Architectural drawing for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Floor plan

Architectural drawing for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Fl...

Competition drawing showing library as plan. UNIT title devised. Library of Congress design competition proposal no. 11 (from Library of Congress Archives, Records of the Library of Congress, Buildings and Grou... More

[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library"), Washington, D.C. Front elevation]
[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library Building"), Washington, D.C. View of stair hall]
[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library Building"), Washington, D.C. View of stair hall]
[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library"), Washington, D.C. Line perspective of front and side elevations]
[Library of Congress ("National Library"), Judiciary Square site, Washington, D.C. Elevation in "Victorian Gothic"]
[View down East Capitol Street from the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., with Carroll Row on the right]

[View down East Capitol Street from the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C....

Photograph shows Carroll Row, razed in 1887 for construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. This record contains unverified, old data from caption card. Caption card tracings: Shelf.

[Main Reading Room under construction in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building]

[Main Reading Room under construction in the Library of Congress Thoma...

Shows circular central desk and reading room desks.

[View down East Capitol Street from the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., with Carroll Row on the right]

[View down East Capitol Street from the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C....

Photograph shows Carroll Row, a block of five houses at 1st & A Street, SE, razed in 1887 for construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Includes the sign "Architect." At far right , to ... More

[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library"), Washington, D.C. Front elevation] / A.R. Esty archt.

[Library of Congress ("Congressional Library"), Washington, D.C. Front...

Title devised by Library staff. Exhibited: Unbuilt Washington, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2011-May 2012. Conservation control number 004069.JC.

Congressional Library, U.S. Capitol
Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

On front: "Architect's Office, Cong. Lib. Bldg." Source unknown.

Design for Jefferson Building

Design for Jefferson Building

Architectural drawing of the first story of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress. Key plan, First story - S159.

Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Plan showing roadway and sidewalk widths]

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Plan showing roadway and sidewa...

Rendering showing site plan of library building and sidewalks, including surrounding streets to Capitol.

Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Excavation of site for the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Printed on image: "Architect's Office, Cong. Lib. Bldg." Source unknown.

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Octagon south. Second story. Brickwork. Plans, sections, and elevations. Working drawing] / Paul F. Pelz, architect.

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Octagon south. Second story. ...

Working drawing showing brickwork of second floor of south portion of octagonal reading room as plans, sections, and elevations. Signed: "Bernard R. Green, Superintendent & Engineer", "E.P.S.", "R.F. O'D., Reve... More

[Laying of the foundation of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.]
[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Attic. Brickwork. Plans, sections, and elevations. Working drawing] / Paul F. Pelz, architect.

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Attic. Brickwork. Plans, sect...

Working drawing showing brickwork of attic as plans, sections, and elevations. Signed: "Bernard R. Green, Superintendent & Engineer", "E.P.S.", "V.S.F.Gr." No. 395.

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. South elevation of building]
Library of Congress construction
[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Inscriptions for stained glass. Diagrams. Working drawing]

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Inscriptions for stained glas...

Working drawing showing inscriptions of famous names and states for stained glass skylights and lantern lights in the curtains of the Thomas Jefferson building as diagrams. Signed: "Bernard R. Green, In Charge." No. 827.

Herbert Putnam in his office. Librarian of Congress
[Foundation construction for the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, view from the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.]

[Foundation construction for the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson ...

Photograph shows Carroll Row, a block of five houses at 1st & A Street, SE, razed in 1887 for construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Includes the sign "Architect."

Construction of the Library of Congress, from southwest, Washington, D.C., November 21, 1890
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., November 1, 1890
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., August 15, 1890
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Ironwork. Boiler room. Skylight. Details]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 1890
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., November 21, 1890
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., July 30, 1890
Construction of The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1890
[Ethnological heads for the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., June 23, 1890
[Builders at work on the rusticated stone walls of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building during its construction; U.S. Capitol in the background]

[Builders at work on the rusticated stone walls of the Library of Cong...

Title devised by Library staff. In album: Photographs of the construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, vol. 1, between leaves 14 and 15, left photo. No. 33.

Construction of the Library of Congress, reading room floor girders, Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 1890
[Construction of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, with the Capitol in the background, Washington, D.C.]
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Exterior stonework. Upper attic. Elevations and details]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 1891
[Builders at work above the second level of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building during its construction]

[Builders at work above the second level of the Library of Congress Th...

Title devised by Library staff. In album: Photographs of the construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, vol. 2, between leaves 67 and 68. No. 49.

Construction of the Northwest Court of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress

Construction of the Northwest Court of the Jefferson Building of the L...

Bird's-eye view; U.S. Capitol in background. No known restrictions on publication.

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 4, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, north front, Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, S.W. court, Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Dec. 30, 1891
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Ironwork. Boiler room. Skylight. Plan, section, and details]
Construction of The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 4, 1891.
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., June 16, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, south front, Washington, D.C., Aug. 27, 1891

Construction of the Library of Congress, south front, Washington, D.C....

No. 44 Initials [W.S.C.] appear on photo. Source unknown.

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, north front, Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 1891

Construction of the Library of Congress, north front, Washington, D.C....

"W.N.C." appears on photo. Duplicate of LOT 12042-1, no. 22. Gift; Paul J. Pelz Estate; September 20, 1918.

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, N.W. court, Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Dec. 3, 1891
Construction of the Library of Congress, from chimney top, Washington, D.C., Dec. 4, 1891
[Men putting in place the keystone of the S.W. clerestory arch of the rotunda of the Library of Congress]

[Men putting in place the keystone of the S.W. clerestory arch of the ...

This record contains unverified, old data from caption card, with subsequent revisions. Caption card tracings: Architecture Details; Washington, D.C. LC; Shelf. Construction

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Stonework. Attic. Courses]

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Stonework. Attic. Courses]

Title devised by Library staff. Sheet no. 510.

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Stonework. Attic. Return and course]
S.W. clerestory arch. Rotunda

S.W. clerestory arch. Rotunda

Photo shows workers using a cable to insert the keystone into a stone arch on the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building during its construction. Title from item. In album: Photographs of the constructio... More

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., April 23, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., April 23, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., June 28, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, from S.E. derrick, Washington, D.C., July 18, 1892
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Stonework. Attic. West courses]
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Stonework. Attic. South return and courses]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., June 28, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., July 18, 1892
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., April 19, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Sept. 5, 1893
[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Large semi-circular window frames for octagon and attic. Sills and lintels of lantern windows, dome, seat brackets, stacks. Ironwork. Details. Working drawing]

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Large semi-circular window fr...

Working drawing showing ironwork of lantern lights of the Thomas Jefferson building as details. Signed: "Bernard R. Green, Superintendent and Engineer", and "F.C.S." No. 565, new drawing superceding 556.

[Construction in interior of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 10, 1893
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Copperwork. Cornice and down pipes]
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Ironwork. Gutter curb on curtains in courts]
Construction of the Library of Congress, W.N.W., Washington, D.C., April 19, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 10, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 1893
[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Large semi-circular frames attic octagon. Seat bracket, stacks, sill and lintels, lantern of dome. Ironwork. Details. Working drawing]

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Large semi-circular frames at...

Working drawing showing ironwork for lantern light frames of the Thomas Jefferson building as details, including sills, lintels, seat brackets, and stacks, as details. Signed: "Bernard R. Green, Superintendent ... More

Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Sept. 5, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 1893
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 1893
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Neptune Plaza. Stonework, approaches, west front. Elevations and sections. North half]
N.C. 1st story, marble carving shop

N.C. 1st story, marble carving shop

Photograph shows stone carvers at work in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building during its construction. Title from item. In album: Photographs of the construction of the Library of Congress Thomas ... More

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Neptune Plaza. Stonework, approaches, west front. Plan of south half]
Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 15, 1894
[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Neptune Plaza. Full size details of stonework, approaches, west front]

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Neptune Plaza. Full size detail...

Sheet no. 644. H. Sill Oct. 1894. Title devised by Library staff.

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