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Building The Library

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.
[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]
1852
1852
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2016
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2016
392 Media in collectionpage 4 of 4

Herbert Putnam, [2/28/24]

Photo shows Librarian of Congress at dedication of the new shrine to hold the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

Herbert Putnam, 2/28/24

Photo shows Librarian of Congress holding the Declaration of Independence at the dedication of the new shrine in the Great Hall at the Library of Congress.

[View of the completed Library of Congress building from the U.S. Capitol grounds, ca. 1900]

Photo shows the newly constructed Thomas Jefferson Building, with its gilded dome and a statue of George Washington and horse-drawn carriages in the foreground.

[Edward Pearce Casey, head-and-shoulders portrait, during his service with the New York National Guard, 7th Regiment, ca. 1885]

Photo shows Edward Casey, the architect who supervised the interior work and was adviser on artistic decoration for the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building construction in Washington, D.C., from Dece... more

[Study of figure of Arts in the mural Peace and prosperity, no. 2]

Study drawing shows a winged boy, nude, crouching facing left as he paints a vase. This is a study for the figure of Arts in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity, who faces right in the final rend... more

[Study of drapery, no. 1]

Study drawing shows drapery, similar to that behind the figure of Peace in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in 1896.

Nude study for figure of Botany Library of Congress

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of "Botany" for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A grid covers the drawing.

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Leaded glass work. Skylights and octagon windows. Elevation and reflected ceiling plans. Working drawing]

Working drawing showing stained glass designs for skylights and lantern lights of the Thomas Jefferson building as reflected ceiling plans and elevation.

Congressional Library studies "Peace"

Study drawing shows hands and feet for the allegorical Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

Romance - nude study

Study drawing shows the allegorical figure of Romance nude. She bends her head to read a book on her lap. Romance was one figure in a painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the... more

[Study drawing for a mural showing dancing figures]

Study drawing for a mural, perhaps one in the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress, showing a vignette of figures dancing. Three putti frame the image.

[Pastel study for the central figure of Anarchy]

Study drawing shows the central figure of Anarchy, partially draped, holding a chalice with her left hand, representing maddening by wine, and a burning scroll in her right hand. She tramples a scroll. The mura... more

Drapery study for figure of Botany Library of Congress

Study drawing shows the dress and drapery for the allegorical figure of "Botany" for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building.... more

A glimpse of the grand stair-case hall

The Great Hall, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building.

The arts - decoration for the Library of Congress

Scaled cartoon for large mural painting showing cherubs and five women representing various arts. Study for tympanum in southwest gallery of the Jefferson Building.

[Study for central figure in Corrupt legislation]

Study drawing shows the allegorical central figure, nude, holding her scale in the Library of Congress mural Corrupt legislation. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Study drawings for the figure of Agriculture in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawings show the hands, feet and face of the allegorical figure of Agriculture for the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Study drawings for the figure of Agriculture in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawings show the hands, feet and face of the allegorical figure of Agriculture for the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

Pace

Study drawing shows drapery and details of feet and an elbow. This is a study for the allegorical figure of Peace in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson ... more

[Study drawing for the figure of Agriculture in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawing shows the allegorical figure of Agriculture, nude, kneeling facing left holding a stick for the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Study drawing for the figure of Agriculture in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawing shows the allegorical figure of Agriculture, nude, kneeling facing left holding a stick for the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Front. Exterior elevation. Competition drawing]

Proposed plan for the facade of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

[Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Front. Exterior elevation. Competition drawing]

Proposed plan for the facade of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

Think Congressional Library anarchy altered by E. Vedder

Study drawing shows the central figure of Anarchy, nude, holding down a parchment with her right hand. The mural Anarchy was installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 1896.

[Study of the figure of Peace in Peace and prosperity holding a green wreath]

Study drawing shows the nude torso, arms, left hand and wreath for the allegorical figure of Peace in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.