Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The original Washington Monument, Baltimore, Maryland

The original Washington Monument, Baltimore, Maryland. Construction began in 1815 and was completed by 1829.

I was lucky to live two blocks away from the original Washington Monument in the elegant Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland foe five years. I walked my beloved dog Belle around the monument every day and spent countless hours in one of the four parks the flank the monument 3 times a day. The parks, which have survived almost intact, are considered to be the finest existing urban landscapes by the beaux-arts architectural firm of Carrere & Hastings, who also designed the New York Public Library, portions of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the residence that houses the Frick Collection. 

The Washington Monument in Baltimore is considered the first architectural monument planned to honor George Washington. In 1815, a statue was designed by Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C at a much latter date. Construction began in 1815 and was completed by 1829. The 178 foot doric column holds a ground-floor museum offering information about Washington as well as construction of the monument. Climbing the 228 steps to the top provides an excellent view of the city from the historic neighborhood where it is located.

The design of the completed column is very similar to the Colonne Vendôme, which ultimately derived from Trajan's Column and was adopted in this time of Neoclassicism in American architecture.
The monument, which was constructed of white marble from Cockeysville, Maryland outside of Baltimore rises 178 feet and consists of three main elements: a low, rectangular base containing a museum; a plain, unfluted column; and, atop the column, a standing figure of Washington. By the time of the monument's completion in 1829, financial constraints had forced a series of design compromises which simplified the monument.

William Rusk, in his book "Art in Baltimore: Monuments and Memorials", tells the following story about the raising of Italian sculptor Enrico Causici's marble statue of Washington in 1829. The marble statue of George Washington (measuring between four and five meters and cut into three blocks of nearly seven tons each), commissioned in 1827, is installed in the top of the memorial column erected in Baltimore by Robert Mills , an architect who Causici regarded as a "genius ."Tradition recalls a prodigy occurring when the statue was raised to the summit of the monument - a shooting star dashed across the sky and an eagle lit on the head of the settling general."

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