Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

fluted columns of highly polished Italian marble. The walls are of Tennessee marble, in which are set huge plate-glass mirrors, serving for panels.

Adjoining the retiring-room, on the west, is the President's Room, which he occupies when attending to business in Congress. It is a square room, beautifully ceiled with frescoed representations, typical of the history of the country. On the walls, which are superbly decorated with arabesques in secco, are to be seen portraits of the first President and his Cabinet, executed by Costantino Brumidi.

The Vice-President's Room adjoins the retiring-room on the east, and is also highly ornamented, and contains a large portrait of Washington, by Rembrandt Peale. The Reception Room and Senate Post Office are entered from the vestibule, and are also beautiful apartments, with walls decorated in secco painting, and gilded and frescoed ceilings.

Two staircases leading to the basement, are mented with richly-foliated bronze railings, decorated with figures of the eagle, the deer, and Cupids. The basement contains a suite of committee-rooms, mostly ornamented in fresco and distemper, in the Italian and Pompeian styles. The corridors are exquisitely ornamented in distemper, by Signor Brumidi; the designs in arabesque and panel-work being taken from the loggia of Raphael and the ruins of Pompeii. These minutely-finished paintings embody illustrations of the natural history of America, the ornithology being mostly painted from the life. The corridors and rooms of both stories are paved with encaustic tiles laid in mosaic, after the choicest patterns of Pompeian and modern design, and are lighted by gorgeous bronze chandeliers.

orna

The Hall of Representatives.—This hall is in the centre of the south wing, and is situated precisely like the Senate chamber, but larger in its proportions, and more gaudily painted and ornamented. It is 139 feet long, 93 feet wide, and 30 feet high, with a gallery running entirely around the hall, affording seats for 1,200 persons. Sections of the gallery are railed off for the especial use of the diplomatic corps and the reporters for the press. The reporters for the government have a desk directly below the chair of the Speaker. The elaborate ceiling of iron, supported by trusses from the roof, is paneled with glass to light the hall, each panel being ornamented by the arms of a State, represented in stained glass. The casting for the ceilings for both halls of Congress, is the work of Janes, Beebe & Co. The painting was done by German and Italian artists. The hall is surrounded by a corridor, outside of which is a range of committee-rooms, and offices of the Clerk of the House. The Speaker's Room is immediately in the rear of his chair, across the private lobby, and is highly decorated with mirrors and paintings, as are all the principal rooms in this wing. The main entrance from the portico will be occupied by double doors of bronze, richly ornamented with historical representations in bas-relief, designed by Rogers, and cast in Munich. Adjoining the grand colonnaded vestibule of the entrance from the eastern portico, is the House Post Office. The ascent to the gallery is by two grand marble staircases at the ends of the hall, like those in the Senate wing. There are also two staircases descending from the southern lobby of the House into the basement, with bronze railings of the same pattern as those in the north wing.

The basement is occupied by committee and document rooms. The room of the Committee on Agriculture is particularly beautiful; the walls and ceiling are painted in fresco, by Signor Brumidi. The arched ceiling is divided into four compartments, in which are represented the four seasons: in the eastern division, Flora is scattering Spring flowers; in the southern, Ceres holds full sheaves of grain; in the western, Bacchus revels in the products of the vine; and in the northern division, Boreas is accompanied by fierce winds and rains. On the eastern wall is a fresco of the call of Cincinnatus from the plough to the dictatorship; and upon the opposite wall is a companion painting of Putnam called from the plough to the battle of Lexington.

The basement is traversed, north and south, by a corridor 241 feet broad, containing thirty monolithic fluted columns of white marble, with capitals foliated with tobacco leaves and buds, supporting a ceiling of cast-iron panels. This corridor extends the entire length of the Capitol, terminating with a door at each end of the basement story.

The Supreme Court Room.—The hall occupied by the court was formerly the Senate chamber, and has been used by the court since December, 1860. It is situated upon the eastern side of the north wing of the centre building; is semicircular, 75 feet long by 45 in height to the apex of the domed ceiling, which is paneled with stuccoed mouldings. A screen of Ionic columns, of green breccia or Potomac marble, supports a gallery upon the eastern side of the hall. The bench of the judges is ranged in front of the colonnade, facing the semicircle

occupied by the bar and the lobby for spectators. Attached to the wall opposite the bench are consoles, supporting the busts of the former Chief Justices-John Jay, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall. The main entrance to the hall is from the corridor connecting the two houses of Congress.

The Library of Congress.—The library, when completed, will embrace the entire western projection of the centre building. It is situated on the west of the rotunda, and opens upon a portico of ten coupled columns, fronting upon the western park and the city, commanding a charming view of the Potomac dotted with white sails, and the green hills of Virginia rising gently in the distance.

The main room is 91 feet long, 34 feet wide, and 38 feet high, and is fitted up with three stories of iron cases, each nine feet six inches high. The lower story consists of alcoves nine feet wide, projecting eight feet six inches from the wall, with seven shelves, graduated in height. The second story has similar alcoves, with a projection of five feet. The wall of the third story is lined with cases without projections. The galleries are continued across the ends of the room, where they are supported by brackets. The galleries are floored with cast-iron plates, and protected by pedestals and railings, and are reached by semicircular staircases recessed in the end walls. The ceiling is of iron, skylighted with ground glass, and rests upon twenty-four massive foliated brackets of iron, weighing a ton each. The pilasters and panels are tastefully ornamented, and the whole is painted a delicate cream color. The railings are bronzed, and the points and drops

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

are burnished with gold leaf. The room is lighted by five windows in front, besides the skylights. The library was designed by Mr. Walter, and the castings executed by Janes, Beebe & Co.

The purchase of books for the library was commenced under the act of Congress of April 24, 1800, at the suggestion of Mr. Jefferson. That act appropriated $5,000 for the purpose, to be expended by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, under the direction of a joint committee of both houses. By an act of January 26, 1802, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, for the time being, were authorized to establish such regulations and restrictions in relation to the use of the library as they might deem proper; and, from time to time, to alter or amend the same. By the same act, the President of the United States was authorized to appoint a librarian to take charge of the library. The collection, amounting to about 3,000 volumes, was consumed in the north wing of the Capitol when it was burned by the British, on the 24th of August, 1814.

In view of this loss, Mr. Jefferson offered his own private library to Congress, and on the 21st of October, 1814, the Committee on the Library was authorized to make the purchase, and having agreed upon the terms, on the 31st of January, 1815, an appropriation of $23,950 was made for that purpose. The books, numbering about 7,500, were transferred to the city of Washington, and placed in the Post Office building, where Congress was then sitting. The library was removed from thence, in 1818, to the-Capitol, and located in a small room over the hall now occupied by the Supreme Court. Upon the com

« PředchozíPokračovat »