Library Of Congress
Library Of Congress

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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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2006
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2006
388 Media in collectionpage 1 of 4

Interior of Library of Congress

Stereograph showing an interior view of the Library of Congress with reading room and stacks in the U.S. Capitol building.

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

Competition drawing showing second story alcoves, clerks offices, and chart rooms as plan.

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

Photograph shows Carroll Row, razed in 1887 for construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building.

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

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."

Design for Jefferson Building

Architectural drawing of the first story of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

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

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

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

Working drawing showing brickwork of second floor of south portion of octagonal reading room as plans, sections, and elevations.

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

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.

[Foundation construction for the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, view 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."

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.

[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]

Working drawing showing ironwork for lantern light frames of the Thomas Jefferson building as details, including sills, lintels, seat brackets, and stacks, as details.

Library Of Congress

The objects in this archive are from Library of Congress - the nation’s first established cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with millions of items including books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library provides Congress, the federal government and the American people with a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage them and support their intellectual and creative endeavors.

Disclaimer: A work of the Library of Congress is "a work prepared by an officer or employee" of the federal government "as part of that person's official duties." In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain. This website is developed as a part of the world's largest public domain archive, PICRYL.com, and not developed or endorsed by the Library of Congress, https://www.picryl.com

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