Chronology of the Thomas Jefferson Building
Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford suggests a separate building
for the crowded Library, then housed in the Capitol.
Congress authorizes a competition to design plans for the new Library.
The architectural firm of Smithmeyer & Pelz of Washington, D.C., is
awarded the $1,500 first prize for its Italian Renaissance design.
Sen. Justin S. Morrill supports a separate building to be located east
of the Capitol.
The Joint Select Committee on Additional Accommodations for the Library
appoints three architects to investigate the feasibility of enlarging
the Capitol for the use of the Library. They recommend against the idea.
In April, Congress authorizes the construction of a Library building according
to the design of Smithmeyer & Pelz (depicted to the right)
on a site adjacent to East Capitol Street, and a building commission establishes
the exact location, immediately south of East Capitol Street and between
First and Second streets. John L. Smithmeyer is appointed architect of
the building, and clearing of the site begins in October.
Principal excavations completed, but work stops while cement for foundation
Work begins on laying the foundation of the building. Bernard Green is
appointed superintendent of construction in March, but work is stopped
in June by a vote of the House of Representatives. Congress places Gen.
Thomas L. Casey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of the construction
in October; he is to be assisted by Green. Smithmeyer is dismissed as
architect, and Paul J. Pelz, his former assistant, is put in charge. Construction
resumes. Congress asks Casey to submit a new plan for a building that
will cost no more than $4 million. In December, Casey submits two plans:
one for $4 million, and the more elaborate Smithmeyer & Pelz design,
which will cost approximately $6 million.
Congress approves the $6 million plan for the building.
The cornerstone for the building is laid in the northeast corner on Aug.
28 (depicted on the right).
Paul J. Pelz is dismissed as the architect in May, and in December Edward
Pearce Casey, the son of Gen. Thomas Casey, is appointed architect and
placed in charge of all interior design and decoration.
The last stone in the superstructure is set in place on July 7.
Gen. Thomas Casey dies in March, and Bernard Green is given responsibility
for completion of the building in April.
The last of the paintings in the interior of the building is completed
Feb. 5, and on Feb. 19 the president signs a law authorizing the reorganization
of the Library and the expansion of its staff. Transfer of materials to
the new building from the Capitol begins in early April, and on April
22, Superintendent Green reports to Congress that the net cost of the
new building was $6,032,124. 54, some $200,000 less than the total appropriation
for construction. The Library in the Capitol closes on Sept. 1, and on
Nov. 1 the new Library building is opened to the public.
Roland Hinton Perry's fountain in front of the building is completed in
February, and in October the building is opened to the public in the evening
on a regular basis.
John Flanagan's clock is installed in the Main Reading Room (depicted
to the right).
Congress appropriates $320,000 to build bookstacks in the southeast courtyard.
The new southeast bookstacks are completed and occupied.
Congress accepts a gift from Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge for the construction
of an auditorium (see Concerts
from the Library of Congress). It is built in a portion of the northwest
courtyard and dedicated with a performance in October.
Because of the need for additional space, another bookstack is added to
the Library in the northeast courtyard.
Congress authorizes extension and remodeling of the east front of the
building and appropriates $6.5 million for the construction of an annex
building, designed by the firm of Pierson and Wilson, with Alexander Trowbridge
as consulting architect.
The extension of the east front is completed, providing new, specially
designed facilities for the Rare Book Room.
Gertrude Clarke Whittall donates funds to the Library of Congress to establish
the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation, whose primary purpose is the
maintenance of the Stradivari instruments she had given to the Library
and support for concerts in which those instruments will be played.
The Annex behind the Jefferson Building is completed, and the transfer
of materials out of the main building begins.
The Whittall Pavilion, built with Whittall Foundation funds to house the
Stradivari instruments in the northwest courtyard adjacent to the Coolidge
Auditorium, is opened in March. In October, the Librarian dedicates the
Hispanic Room on the east side of the second floor, designed by architect
Paul Cret and decorated and furnished with funds provided by Archer M.
Brazilian muralist Cândido Portinari completes four large paintings
in the entrance to the Hispanic
Room depicting the succession of periods since the Spanish and Portuguese
arrived in America. Through four panels, Discovery of the Land,
Entry into the Forest, Teaching of the Indians (shown
on the right), and Mining of Gold, the artist represents
Indian, black and white peoples in America. On January 12, 1942, the Portinari
murals were formally inaugurated in a special ceremony.
The new Woodrow Wilson Room, located on the second floor across the hall
from the Rare Book Room, is dedicated in January. It will house Wilson's
Air conditioning is installed in the Congressional Reading Room.
The Poetry Room is dedicated in April on Shakespeare's birthday. Located
in the northwest corner of the third floor of the building, it is decorated
and furnished with funds provided by Mrs. Whittall.
Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford notes the need for a third building.
The Main Reading Room is closed in May for cleaning and the installation
of new lighting, heating and air conditioning systems.
The Main Reading Room reopens in August. In October, Congress authorizes
the construction of a third Library structure, the James Madison Memorial
Building, which is designed by DeWitt, Poor and Shelton.
The Main Building is officially renamed the Thomas Jefferson Building
in June, and the Annex becomes the John Adams Building. In July, temporary
partitions and utilities on the second floor of the Great Hall are removed
following the transfer of Library staff to the new Madison Building.
The firm of Arthur Cotton Moore Associates is hired as consulting architects
for the renovation/rehabilitation of the Jefferson and Adams buildings.
The Architect of the Capitol and the Library of Congress agree on a renovation
plan to be carried out in two distinct phases.
Congress approves an appropriation of $81.5 million for the restoration
of the Jefferson and Adams buildings.
Neptune Plaza and the Neptune Fountain are restored.
Phase I of the renovation of the Jefferson Building begins.
Main Reading Room closes for renovation in December (depicted on the
Phase I of the renovation is completed.
West front main door of the Jefferson Building and the Great Hall are
closed in June, shortly after the last concerts are held in the Coolidge
The Main Reading Room reopens in June. The Rosenwald Room, opposite the
Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room, is dedicated in September.
It is a partial replication of the gallery that Lessing J. Rosenwald maintained
at his home in Jenkintown, Pa.
The Library celebrates the reopening of the Thomas Jefferson Building
on the 100th anniversary of its opening (restored space depicted to
On April 24, 2000, the Library
celebrated its Bicentennial with a day-long series of events and entertainment
kicked off by ceremonies marking the issuance of the Library of Congress
commemorative stamp and the silver and bimetallic commemorative coins.
The launch of a new, easy-to-use and entertaining Web site (http://www.americaslibrary.gov),
designed especially for children and their families, and the unveiling
of a national public service advertising campaign in partnership with
the Ad Council followed the coin and stamp ceremonies.
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April 23, 2003