"Beloved Ancien":

By Kurt G. F. Helfrich

IN late September 1939 the American Institute of Architects held its annual convention in Washington, D.C. Its gathering in the nation's capital was important because it was deliberately timed to coincide with the meeting of the International Congress of Architects and was meant to showcase America's architectural development during the 1930s by bringing together national and international designers and planners to discuss the state of contemporary design. Unfortunately, this intended joint meeting was postponed by the outbreak of war in Europe following Germany's invasion of Poland earlier that month. [1] Despite this postponement, the American Institute of Architects convention featured a series of tours and exhibitions that examined planning and development in Washington since 1900. It was at the 1900 Washington convention that the Institute's secretary, Glenn Brown, had skillfully orchestrated a program of lectures and discussions that set the stage for appointment in 1901 of the Senate Park Commission by the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. [2] The recommendations of the Senate Park Commission—known familiarly as the McMillan Commission, after its Senate benefactor James McMillan—formed the basis for planning and design changes to the Mall and its environs that continue to shape the monumental core of Washington today.

The 1939 American Institute of Architects convention was a less historically momentous affair, whose only note of controversy centered around an exhibition mounted by members of the Washington, D.C., chapter. The exhibition, titled Washington: The Planned City Without a Plan, was intended as a plea to reevaluate the Senate Park Commission's 1902 design in light of contemporary planning challenges facing the city, including the continued impact of unregulated suburban growth combined with what was already being perceived as a decaying urban center. Spearheaded by the chapter president, Alfred Kastner, and a young associate architect, Chloethiel Woodard, the show consisted of photographic panels tracing the historical, social, and economic development of Washington, whose message emphasized the need for integration of modern requirements into the historical plan. [3] Consigned to a small room in the Willard Hotel, Kastner and Woodard's show was overshadowed by the larger exhibition, The Plan of Washington, organized by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Park and Planning Commission in the top floor Art Gallery of the Interior Department. While their plea for a more unified plan for Washington linking the monumental core with the surrounding city was lost in the larger debate between modernists and traditionalists, it helped spur the National Capital Park and Planning Commission's work on a regional comprehensive plan for Washington developed after World War II.

As a part of its proceedings, the 1939 American Institute of Architects convention also saw the elevation to fellowship status of the Washington architect William Thomas Partridge (1866-1955; frontispiece). Partridge had been associated with the work of the Senate Park Commission and its report, having served as chief draftsman for the project in the autumn of 1901. He worked under the direction of the noted Beaux-Arts architect Charles Fallen McKim (1847-1909) overseeing the preparation of drawings and models. [4] Partridge's 1939 American Institute of Architects Fellowship nomination package testifies to the high quality of his architectural training and his subsequent career and included glowing letters of endorsement by highly placed colleagues, friends, and former students including Frederic A. Delano, William Adams Delano, Colonel Ulysses S. Grant III, Louis Justement, and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Partridge's friend, the Washington architect Horace W. Peaslee, summed up Partridge's accomplishments in his fellowship nomination by poetically noting, "In private practice and in public office, William Partridge, Architect and Adviser . . . has taught as he worked, helping young men to understand, and understanding, to produce, advancing his profession while serving the public . . .'Beloved Ancien—A Worthy Fellow.'" [5]

William T. Partridge viewing model of Monument Gardens, ca. 1932. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Born in the District of Columbia in 1866, Partridge's ancestors included Scottish shipwrights and English builders. He first apprenticed with the Washington architect James Rush Marshall (1851-1927), before attending the newly established architectural program at the Columbia School of Mines in New York City from 1883 to 1886. [6] At Columbia, he was exposed to the architectural principles of the École des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of William Rotch Ware (1832-1915). Moving to Boston, Partridge worked as a paid delineator for Ware's magazine, American Architect, which, as he later recalled, provided "the profession with a valuable service by enabling architects to obtain perspectives and renderings of their designs at minimum cost." [7] Partridge's work for the American Architect involved laying out plans and perspective elevations in pencil and ink, which would then be rendered or colored in by professional artists, among them D. A. Gregg and J. Eldon Deane. Partridge's drafting skills soon caught the attention of Charles McKim who hired him as an unpaid apprentice, along with his friend Paul Gmelin, to help with work on drawings for his Boston Public Library competition entry from 1887 to 1888. [8] Partridge cherished the time he spent working on the library for McKim, who affectionately nicknamed him "Bird" during this period.

Winning the Rotch Traveling Scholarship in 1889, Partridge traveled to France and Italy, where he attended the Atelier Duray in Paris and spent much time at the Chateau of Blois, making measured drawings of the wing constructed by the French king François I (1494-1547). [9] In Italy the following year, Partridge, in a typical example of his dry wit, remembered checking up on "Vignola's digressions." By 1896 he was back at Columbia University as an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, teaching "the free use of orders" as an outgrowth of his travel studies. [10] During this period he helped complete competition drawings with John Galen Howard and others for the 1901 Pan American Exposition at Buffalo, the Carnegie Residence in New York City, and the campus plans for Carnegie-Mellon and Stanford universities. McKim kept a watchful eye over his young protégé's career, recommending the thirty-year-old junior instructor in 1896 for the position of director of the newly founded American Academy in Rome. [11]

In the autumn of 1901, McKim asked Partridge to help oversee completion of the visual materials needed for the Senate Park Commission's exhibition and report. Partridge took a leave of absence from Columbia and worked with McKim in New York during this period, producing the final plan and laying out over forty drawings that were rendered by noted artists, including Jules Guerin and Charles Graham. He also supervised the construction of two models of the Mall area, by the Boston-based geographic sculptor George Carroll Curtis, showing existing conditions and planned improvements. [12] While Partridge's time with McKim on the Senate Park Commission work was a brief four months, it set the course for his future career as an architect and planner in government service helping to implement the commission's goals for improving Washington, D.C.

Following his work on the Senate Park Commission models and drawings, Partridge returned to private architectural practice in New York and continued to teach at Columbia until 1902. In 1907 he married Alma B. Austin. Born in Red Bank, New Jersey, in 1880 and trained as a teacher, Alma Austin taught at the Ethical Culture School in New York and was one of the first women to receive a law degree from George Washington University. [13] Partridge returned to Washington in 1918, where he worked for the Navy Department's Bureau of Yards and Docks until 1927. During this period he served as a consulting architect on a number of projects, including the development of a comprehensive plan for the Naval Academy at Annapolis, studies for the Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C., and a design for the dirigible airship hangar erected at Lakehurst Field in New Jersey. Partridge was also instrumental in establishing an advisory committee on design for the Bureau's new structures, composed of two architects and two engineers. The committee encouraged the development of an "aesthetic" doctrine for engineering structures. Partridge specifically remembered working on a project to refine the design of radio mast lines. [14]

In 1928 Partridge was asked by Colonel Ulysses S. Grant III to join the staff of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Established in 1924 as the National Capital Park Commission, by 1926 the commission's mandate had broadened to cover all elements of city and regional planning for Washington and its environs, and its name was changed to the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Partridge's first assignment for the National Capital Park and Planning Commission concerned, fittingly enough, supporting a design element within the Senate Park Commission plan that had been set aside: construction of a memorial bridge across the Potomac River linking Washington with Arlington National Cemetery. In 1928 the members of the Commission of Fine Arts had approved the final design by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, which left out the shore drive underpass on the Washington side. The idea of an arched opening within the stone abutment was suggested by the Senate Park Commission's 1902 report in two drawings of recommended improvements, but according to Partridge had not been included on the 1902 model due to lack of time. Partridge helped organize a meeting with the Commission of Fine Arts members in New York in the summer of 1928, during which they voted to reverse an earlier decision and retain the underpass shown in the 1902 report. [15] With this victory, Partridge established himself as a powerful advocate in Washington for adherence to the goals of the Senate Park Commission plan. To aid himself in this task, Partridge strengthened his knowledge of its goals through an intensive study of the surviving archival documents relating to Pierre Charles L'Enfant's plan for Washington from the 1790s. His findings were published as a part of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission Annual Report in 1930. [16]

During the early 1930s Partridge was involved in plans for the creation of the Federal Triangle development and assisted in the creation of a documentary film on the campaign to improve public architecture in Washington, started under President Herbert Hoover. [17] In the mid-1930s Partridge oversaw the creation of a new National Capital Park and Planning Commission model of the central core area of the city, one that updated the changes to the area made since the Senate Park Commission model of 1902 (fig. 1). Partridge's model traveled to a number of national expositions during the decade, helping to inform Americans about planning changes being made to their nation's capital. [18]

Fig. 1 View of National Capital Park and Planning Commission model designed by Partridge on exhibit at the Interior Department Gallery, 1939. Commission of of Fine Arts

Partridge was hired by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission in the late 1920s because of his direct knowledge of the Senate Park Commission's plans for improving Washington. Employed as an architectural consultant, rather than a full-time staff employee, Partridge's preferred method of work was as a behind-the-scenes advisor. Despite his low-key nature, he was instrumental in helping to extend the Park Commission's planning goals outside the confines of what he termed the "Shield-Kite" Mall area. Beginning in the late 1930s, Partridge helped to formulate designs for the Northwest and Southwest Rectangles, the Municipal Center, and the extension of the Mall east of the Capitol Building through the creation of a monumental Avenue of the States that would have replaced East Capitol Street (fig. 2). [19] These efforts, if completed as proposed, would have transformed Washington's central area. America's entry into World War II put the various proposals on hold, and they were abandoned with the National Capital Park and Planning Commission's postwar emphasis on urban renewal and regional planning to create a more dispersed and anti-monumental suburban city.

Fig. 2 Aerial View of East Capitol Street, Capitol to Lincoln Park. Drawing by William T. Partridge, 1945. Commission of Fine Arts

Partridge began recording recollections of his time working with Charles McKim and the Senate Park Commission in a series of short drafts beginning in 1930. These early drafts may have been spurred by a desire to document his own role in the project, which had been neglected by Charles Moore in his 1929 biography of McKim. [20] Partridge began a more serious attempt at recording his recollections beginning in 1940, during an enforced period of rest after a serious illness, [21] By 1941, assisted by a National Capital Park and Planning Commission stenographer and typist, Partridge had expanded the scope of his writing to include subsequent developments in Washington planning, much of which he gathered from firsthand knowledge working for the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. This longer manuscript, focusing on the history and development of the Mall, was periodically amended by Partridge, even after his retirement from the National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1951 and his subsequent move to Red Bank, New Jersey. [22] It remained in the holdings of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, following Partridge's death in New Jersey in 1955, along with a series of rich historical data files he compiled relating to aspects of Washington's architectural and urban development from the 1790s to the late 1940s. The collection was transferred to the National Archives in the late 1960s.

Partridge's manuscript, "Mall: History and Development," is over 150 typed pages and includes a number of appendices on particular topics. Its fifteen chapters deal with a wide variety of issues including a chronological account of the development of Washington from L'Enfant's 1791 plan to the Senate Park Commission's plan of 1902, as well as an in-depth account of the role which the American Institute of Architects, particularly its secretary, Glenn Brown, played in paving the way for the Park Commission's work. Other chapters deal with the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Grounds, the Executive Group, and East Capitol Street. [23] For obvious reasons only a portion of the manuscript has been reproduced here. I have chosen to include his chapters on L'Enfant's plan for Washington, his time working for the Senate Park Commission, and sections on the Lincoln Memorial and the development of the Shield-Kite, including the partially completed Northwest and Southwest Rectangles and the Federal Triangle. These sections contain information that is not readily available in the published literature on Washington's architectural and urban development.

It is fitting that portions of William T. Partridge's unpublished reminiscences are now made available to scholars and the general public in this volume that celebrates the centennial anniversary of the completion of the Park Commission's report, The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Columbia, or Senate Park Commission Report (see note 4). Partridge would no doubt be pleased. Writing his friend and former Columbia University pupil, William Adams Delano, in 1940, he was candid about the role of his cherished mentor, Charles McKim, in developing the Mall in 1901:

Now McKim was not an originator, but a wonderful adaptor and modifier, if you can use such a term architecturally. He could take a suggestion from Letarouilly or from some existing Colonial house, and by careful study, working his draftsmen to death, he would have something in the end which was not a copy, which was McKim expressing his power and strength and beauty, weaving his delicate appreciation of details into a warp of exquisite proportion. . . . Everyone gives McKim credit for the Mall. Adopting a modification of the L'Enfant idea, he changed the central road, replacing it with a tapis vert, lined with elms and bordered with buildings. Was this McKim's idea? No. It was Olmsted's (Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s) design, with modifications which made it a McKim product. You have only to read the speech of Olmsted before the AIA in 1900 to learn where McKim obtained the idea for the Mall for which he has been given the credit. [24]

Partridge had strong beliefs about the continued potential of the Senate Park Commission plan as a guide for the development of Washington, an observation he communicated in his recollections and his work for the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. At once a visionary and a pragmatist, he was interested in ensuring that the Senate Park Commission recommendations—particularly their overall clarity of design—continued to govern the development of Washington, D.C.'s monumental core. This comes through in his insistence on the need to restudy the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument in the early 1930s, as well as the completion of the post-1901 proposed Northwest and Southwest rectangles, and the creation of a more effective connection between the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. These are planning challenges that still face Washington. Termed the "Grand Old Man of Architecture, who has never grown old" by his friend Horace W. Peaslee, on the occasion of his retirement from public service in 1951, Partridge's hitherto forgotten recollections can serve as inspiration for a renewed examination of the Senate Park Commission's goals and their meaning for Washington, D.C., as it enters the twenty-first century. [25]

William Thomas Partridge


In 1901 the Committee on the District of Columbia of the Senate, acting under the instructions of that body, was directed to have prepared a report upon the development and improvement of the entire park system of the District of Columbia, and to secure the services of such experts as might be necessary to that end. With the advice and cooperation of the American Institute of Architects two such experts were selected, and these in turn chose two others.

This body of four men, each pre-eminent in his profession, devoted their services for a year without compensation. The group was known as the "Park Commission of 1901" but more generally called, after their Senate sponsor, "The McMillan Commission." [26]

The scope of a plan covering so broad a field, the short time allotted for its solution, the many phases of the design proceeding simultaneously make it now exceedingly difficult for any one person, no matter how closely associated with the project, to gather together the information necessary to present a complete and well balanced picture. [27] Despite these difficulties, there are certain major facts which may be recorded and which cannot be read from the finished drawings and do not appear in the official reports. It is important that the reasons be known for the acceptance of certain solutions, for the selection of certain forms to the exclusion of others in the evolution of the design. These were learned only through working at first hand with the designer during the creative period, while, through endless discussions and arguments, the final form was taking shape.

As the appointment of this Commission was the result of an historic event in the progress of the city's development—the centennial celebration of its occupancy as the national capital—it is thought necessary to go back these one hundred years to the very beginning, to the work of L'Enfant, its original designer, in order to gain a proper perspective and to better understand the problems confronted in this study of the city's future development. The Washington, D.C. of 1900 was a far cry from that city envisioned by its founders [fig. 3].

Fig. 3 The Mall in 1901. Note Pennsylvania Railroad Station (far left, middle ground), shed, and tracks crossing the Mall at Sixth Street. Commission of Fine Arts

Not only did the members of the new Commission study all available material bearing upon the history of the first plan but they felt it necessary to sacrifice no small part of the very limited time allotted them for study, to visit those cities in Europe wherein could be found examples of that seventeenth-century planning which reached its peffection at Versailles and which may have had an influence upon the design.

The Commission spent five weeks abroad following an itinerary laid out by Mr. Olmsted, which had been based upon the work of Le Nôtre and his contemporaries. Additional visits were made to other cities which afforded examples of good or bad solutions of those problems with which the Commission had been called upon to deal. [28]

Plans of the original city and of the District of Columbia were carried with them and furnished food for discussion throughout their journey. Mr. Olmsted relates how the design of an important feature of the Mall was discussed and settled upon during a train ride to Budapest, the sketches for it having been made upon a pad of cross section paper. [29]

Whether the Commission reached any conclusion on this trip as to the influence of precedent on L'Enfant's plan for the National Capital is not recorded. It is still today a matter of discussion.


It is generally conceded that the plan for the national capital was conceived in the formal manner of LeNôtre, but the chief concern of its designer was for the conformation of his layout to the natural topography of the site [fig. 4]. While in some details the plan of Versailles may have influenced the design, it is generally considered today that the conception was an original one, evolved from topographical conditions.

Fig. 4 William T. Partridge's drawing, "Existing Topographical Conditions." National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Reports and Plans, Washington Region: Supplementary and Technical Data to Accompany Annual Report, 1930.

It is true that L'Enfant wrote Mr. Jefferson for some plans of continental cities which he had collected in his travels abroad, but L'Enfant takes particular care to state that he would "reprobate the idea of Imitating," that he wished to prepare a plan "on a new and original way" and desired these maps only in order to refine and strengthen his judgement. In his reports and later memorials he stressed the uniqueness and originality of his scheme. [30]

These reports or descriptions relate his endeavor to make the plan fit the ground and only secondarily offer aesthetic reasons for his avenue and street layout. His work reflects his dual ability as engineer and artist. His descriptions show a consideration of the problems of city and regional planning that would be a credit to an expert city planner of today. His carrying of water traffic into the very heart of the city to centrally located market basins is an illustration of the working of a practical engineering mind, while his vision of this canal being filled from "under Congress House" whence Tiber Creek deflected would pour in a cascade forty feet high and a hundred feet wide, is the blessing or curse, perhaps, of the artist strain of his paternity—L'Enfant's father was an artist of some note, several of whose pictures were hung in the Palace of Versailles—and was suggested doubtless by his recollection of the cascade at Saint Cloud. [31]

In formulating his plan, first consideration was given to the selection of the sites for the two principal buildings—the Capitol or "Congress House," located on the west side of a high plateau known as Jenkins Hill and described as "a pedestal awaiting a monument." [32] The site chosen for the President's Palace was not so easily settled upon. The President had, upon a personal view of the situation, selected for its location the high ground of the present Naval Hospital Hill. This choice, however, was set aside by L'Enfant in making his plan and its location was moved farther east, where though the elevation was lower, a better view was obtained down the straight stretch of the river. There were probably two other considerations which won the final agreement of the President to this change, for it is on record that he wanted his original choice of site restored. One was the possibility of here extending the grounds of the "Palace" south across the mouth of Tiber Creek over a tongue of land to the Potomac River. Had the high hill site been retained there would have been room only for a very shallow park south of the "Palace" and above all no possibility of a Public Walk directly connecting the "President's Palace" with the "Congress House," the one outstanding feature of L'Enfant's plan.

Thomas Jefferson prepared the first sketch plan for the proposed city in which the President's House was located on this high hill favored by the President, with the Capitol placed where the present White House stands [fig. 5]. He indicated "public walks" connecting the two buildings bordering the Potomac River. While this feature may have suggested the public walk of L'Enfant, it had here no latent possibilities of monumental development. [33]

Fig. 5 Jefferson's plan for Washington, 1791. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division

The second advantage of this position of L'Enfant for the "Palace" over any other was that a line extended south through the center of the proposed building would cross the mouth of Tiber Creek and traverse the tongue of land lying between the creek and the river. A line extended westward through the center of the "Congress House" would intersect this north-south axis of the "Palace" and the proposed President's garden, creating a most important central point.

Here was the ideal site for that equestrian statue of General Washington which had been authorized for some time. No other location for the President's House would have produced so fortuitous a result. Thus, even the layman can understand that the city plan was based upon a double axis, an "L" shaped central area dictated by the locations of the two main buildings.

But we here ask, why two buildings and not three? The Government was a trilogy of legislative, executive, and judicial branches.

Where was the Supreme Court in the choice of locations for the principal public buildings? This third arm was allotted a site where the City Hall was afterwards erected. Although there is a major building here shown on L'Enfant's plan there is no direct reference to it in the "Legend" and only one mention of it in any of his reports. This site was one about midway between the Capitol and the "Palace" and played but a secondary part in the structure of the plan.

Across the city L'Enfant spread a plaid of streets running parallel to the cardinal points of the compass and coordinating these two main building sites [fig. 6]. Across this gridiron, from the sites of the two principal buildings as major, and from a few minor foci, were spread fans of radial avenues symmetrically arranged in pairs forming more or less complete Maltese or masonic crosses. The aim of these radials was "principally to connect each part of the city with more efficacy making the real distance less from place to place." [34] The intersections of these radial avenues determined the location of the principal streets of the plaid.

Fig. 6 William T. Partridge's drawing, "L'Enfant Plan of Washington Superimposed on the Rectangular System from which He Worked." National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Reports and Plans, Washington Region: Supplementary and Technical Data to Accompany Annual Report, 1930.

The secondary foci marked the sites of the City Hall, where lies today Garfield Park; the Itinerary Column site, now Lincoln Park; and the plaza at the eastern end of East Capitol Street—the bridgehead. [35] It can be readily seen that this interlacing plaid of streets and radial avenues, once laid out, could not very well be changed without disrupting the entire system.

A drawing, which was described by L'Enfant as "altered" according to the direction of the President, was submitted to Congress on December 13, 1791, and in later years (1797) was returned to the three Commissioners with an accompanying letter from the President calling their attention to the marks in pencil made by Mr. Jefferson showing the engraver what avenues to omit. This original drawing, though probably not the first, is today in the custody of the Map Division of the Library of Congress. [36] It is much damaged from well meaning but ignorant attempts to preserve it. It is best known through lithographic reproductions of a tracing made in 1887 by the Coast and Geodetic Survey [pl. I].

It may be recalled that L'Enfant refused to allow his drawing to be shown at the first auction sale of lots and was thought to have deliberately so delayed the preparation of an engraving of the plan that the task was assigned to Andrew Ellicott. [37] Changes were made during this process which brought forth violent protests from L'Enfant when discovered.

Now we find from a recently recovered "progress chart" that the laying out on the ground of that section west of the Capitol was considerably advanced by August 1791 and it is probably due to that fact that there occur no radical differences in that section between L'Enfant's plan of August and the later engraved plan of Ellicott [pl. II]—save for the omission of an undesignated feature, together with several radials on upper Sixteenth Street. [38] The most radical alterations were made by Ellicott in the southeast section of the City.

L'Enfant's antagonism to any authority save that of the President caused his dismissal and he is said to have taken the large working plan with him on his departure. The engraved plan of Ellicott was thereafter used as the official plan until 1797 when a third plan was prepared by Dermott and signed by both President Adams and George Washington. [39]

Although the McMillan Commission had pledged themselves to a strict adherence to the plan of L'Enfant, its details had been so changed and mutilated by many hands in a hundred years that only its spirit could be followed.

President Washington himself was responsible for the loss of the carefully planned vista of the White House from the Capitol. The size of the President's Palace had been considerably reduced (sic) by his orders and in directing that the original northern building line be retained, the southern semi-circular portico was forced north so it no longer could be seen from the Capitol. [40]

The change, however, producing the most far-reaching results upon the plan of the city was the shift in departmental locations. L'Enfant placed his three departments of State, War and Treasury in a single building located in the Mall itself, halfway between the Capitol and the President's House. When President Adams decided to erect buildings for each of the now four departments, there had been no attempt to canalize the Tiber and this site fell practically on the very shore of the creek. He therefore suggested a location in the vicinity of the Capitol. Ex-President Washington then overruled that proposal and insisted the buildings should be in the immediate vicinity of the President. His reasons were not alone the convenience of the President. He stated that while in Philadelphia the departmental officials were so over-run with visits of the members of Congress that they had often to seek their homes in order to do their current work. [41]

Therefore, in accordance with the ex-President's direction four buildings were located within the grounds of the President's Palace. This established a tradition that the Executive Departments should be located in the immediate vicinity of the President which has held until today.

Nor could either of them have dreamed of the final form the memorial to General Washington, the "Hero of the Revolution," was to take. The equestrian statue, authorized by Congress, was located in the very center of the city, very near the center of the District itself. The only concern of the President was over the classic costume in which he was to be immortalized. Over forty years elapsed before any action upon a memorial was taken and that a private one—the gift of the site by Congress of this section of the Mall was its only contribution, and this was a reservation from which they had long been trying to disentangle themselves. [42]

A competition was held by the Washington National Monument Society, in which Mr. Robert Mills, Architect of the Treasury building, won the award. [43] His design resembles little the shaft of today.

The failure to canalize the Tiber as proposed by L'Enfant caused the site for the proposed equestrian statue to fall upon the very edge of the mouth of the creek. Therefore the location of this huge shaft was moved some four hundred feet southeast where there was a slight mound in the middle of the tongue of land formed at the mouth of Tiber Creek which apparently afforded better foundation conditions. This location was fatal to the axial relationship of L'Enfant's design. The new monument was 177 feet south of the original site and some 377 feet east—off axis in both directions. The scale of the gigantic shaft, some 555 feet high, was to strike an entirely different note in the future development of the central area.

Congress at an early date had donated part of the Mall to the Smithsonian Institution, which erected a brown stone structure scarcely in harmony with anything L'Enfant conceived. [44] Fortunately it was placed considerably south of the center of the Mall. That section of the Mall nearest the Capitol was turned over to the Columbian Society which instituted the Botanic Gardens. [45] A building for the Department of Agriculture as well as a huge National Museum and an Armory were also erected south of the Capitol-Monument axis line. The Tiber Canal which instead of L'Enfant's wide channel had been made so narrow and shallow that it had become a noisome ditch was filled in 1871 and the creek diverted into a large sewer. Four new squares had been carved out of the Mall by the insertion of two new avenues—Maine and Missouri Avenues—parallel to Pennsylvania and Maryland Avenues between Second and Fourth Streets, NW. [46]

In 1872 the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad was granted a right of way across the Mall and land for a station and train shed at Sixth and B Streets, NW., and in 1901 at the time of the appointment of the McMillan Commission, Congress had granted a larger area for the use of the railroad in consideration of the surrender of street trackage and the proposed elevation of the tracks within the city. [47]


Several speakers at this Convention [American Institute of Architects convention, 12 to 15 December 1900] had mentioned in their addresses the desirability of a board or a commission of experts to make an intensive study of the problem [the railroad]. This aroused the interest of Mr. Charles Moore, Senator James McMillan's secretary, and he in turn called the attention of the Senator to the effect on the public of a campaign for the artistic development of the national capital. As we noted earlier, the District of Columbia had long been indebted to the Senator for many practical benefits and now he was to give his untiring efforts to its beautification and later advanced from his private banking account a large sum in order to finance the expenses of the Commission he created. [48] Through his efforts the suggestions advanced by the assembled architects were successfully converted into action.

A conference was held with the officers of the Institute [of Architects], and to use a modernism, he [Senator McMillan] was sold the idea of a commission of experts. A resolution was introduced in the Senate on December 17, 1900—four days after the memorable meeting of the Institute of December 13. [49] The joint resolution called for a commission consisting of two architects and one landscape architect to consider the subject of the location and grouping of public buildings and monuments to be erected in the District of Columbia and the development and improvement of the entire park system. This committee of three was to report to Congress in December 1901. Ten thousand dollars was appropriated. This was never acted upon for fear of the opposition of Speaker Joseph Cannon who consistently opposed any expenditure of public money for "Art." [50]

It was thought best to handle the matter in another way, and on March 8, 1901, three months after the 1900 meeting, Senator McMillan reported from the District Committee a resolution directing that the committee report to the Senate a plan for the improvement of the entire park system of the District of Columbia. The committee was thereby authorized to employ experts, the necessary expenses to be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate. [51] These costs, some $60,000 were advanced by Senator McMillan and were eventually repaid him.

The resolution having been adopted, a subcommittee was appointed which met Mr. Robert Peabody, the President of the Institute. Mr. Boring for the architects recommended Mr. Daniel H. Burnham of Chicago and Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. of Brookline, Massachusetts, to prepare the desired plan and authorized them to select a third member to act with them. These recommendations being adopted, Mr. Charles F. McKim was requested to serve as the third member and consented. [52]

The personnel of the commission is so well known to all that any account of the men or their work seems superfluous. Nevertheless, for the benefit of the younger generation, let us relate that Daniel H. Burnham, an architect of Chicago, was probably the first and by far the most successful of the "promoter architects." [53] As was necessary in the business side of the profession of architecture, he possessed rare executive ability. This practical ability was apparent in the organization and construction of the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, and placed that exposition in the front rank of international expositions. Aesthetically, it influenced public taste for a decade after. It was a revelation to the American citizen, unfamiliar with continental group planning and its resulting grandeur and impressiveness.

Mr. Charles McKim was recognized in his profession as without a peer in his particular field in design. His work was noted for its simplicity, directness, with a feeling for scale and proportion; in his detail he was exquisite. He was not an original designer and had no scruples in seizing any architectural precedent which suited his purpose, and in passing through his hands it became imbued with his own personal qualities. In his defense it may be said that in the past all architectural style variations have been produced by exactly this same process. The Greek architecture owes much to the Egyptians; the Romans tried to copy the Greek; the Gothic trained workmen, and in trying to copy the classic, produced the Renaissance. [54]

As stated before, two members of the Commission were appointed by Senator McMillan and these selected the third associate, Mr. McKim. How Saint-Gaudens legally became a member is not clear to the writer. McKim appears to have written to Burnham that he would prove a valuable addition and that Senator McMillan be so informed. Saint-Gaudens was then invited to become a full member of the Commission and accepted. [55]

Mr. Saint-Gaudens by common consent was recognized as preeminent among the world's sculptors, but it was his instinctive feeling for sites, for statues and buildings which had impressed McKim profoundly. Mr. Olmsted Jr. added to an inherited taste, an unusual training in landscape architecture, both practical and theoretical—despite his youth he had enjoyed a wide experience in planning of large park projects.



From the very beginning the Commission sought for no originality in design. They stated in their final report that "the more they studied the first plan of the Federal City, the more they became convinced that the greatest service they could perform would be done by carrying to a legitimate conclusion the comprehensive, intelligent, yet simple and straightforward scheme devised by L'Enfant under the direction of Washington and Jefferson." [56]

Their method of procedure too, followed closely that of the original designer. L'Enfant states in his first letter to Thomas Jefferson that he "arrived late in the evening after having traveled part of the way on foot and part on horseback, leaving the broken stage behind." He first viewed the ground, "riding over it on horseback as I have already done yesterday through the rain to obtain a knowledge of the whole." [57] He described enthusiastically the topography and possibilities of defense and notes the abundant water supply.

Similarly, the Park Commission began its work by making a personal survey of the District, but "behind spanking bays," as a caustic critic stated, going first through every part of the city in order to familiarize themselves with the character of the buildings and grounds within the city limits. Tours were then made around the outskirts. They examined the shores of the Potomac as far as Great Falls in order to learn at first hand the nature of the scenery and character of the water supply.

L'Enfant stresses in his report the possibilities of defense. The Commission visited the defending forts of the Civil War and sought the best vistas from the encircling hills.

L'Enfant worked less than a year upon his plan. The Commission spent but a similar length of time. L'Enfant wrote Jefferson asking for certain plans he had collected of continental cities, not for the purpose of "imitating" but "to strengthen his judgement." [58]

The Commission preferred to see these continental cities in person. From the very first, Mr. Burnham insisted on a trip to Europe in order to refresh the minds of the Commission and, with the problems of the Washington plan in view, to see at first hand what others had done before them. With the details of their visit the writer is not a first hand familiar, but they were often referred to by Mr. McKim in discussion of precedents, and interesting accounts of it may be read in the life of McKim and Burnham, both written by Mr. Charles Moore. [59]

An additional parallel lies in the fact that the plan of L'Enfant was never formally approved by Congress or the President, nor has the plan of the McMillan Commission ever been officially authorized, but both plans carried such force and conviction through merit alone that despite later changes, they have never been radically departed from.


Upon the return of the Commissioners to New York, the organization of the staff was now the first consideration. Offices were leased above those of McKim, Mead and White for the convenience of Mr. McKim in the transaction of his private practice, which, however, was completely ignored during the later phases of the work. [60] These offices might better have been in Washington save for the convenience it afforded Mr. McKim's partners to plead, often in person, for his attention to some of the firm's problems. I often recall how Mr. Stanford White would storm the new offices and literally carry off McKim to a conference in the rooms below.

Mr. McKim wished Henry Bacon to take charge of the preparation of the drawings but he was involved in the competition for the Department of Agriculture Building and was thereby debarred from government employment. Bacon suggested the name of the writer who had but a short time before been associated with him in preparing the plan of that project for a new Mall designed by Parsons and Pentecost for Colonel Bingham [fig. 7]. [61]

Fig. 7 Parsons and Pentecost plan for the Mall, prepared for Colonel Bingham, 1900. Collection: Pamela Scott

The main considerations for my selection in Bacon's stead was the fact that I had been born and brought up in Washington, D.C., and was therefore thoroughly acquainted with the city, and I was also familiar with the tastes and methods of McKim through contacts in the preparation of the design for the Boston Public Library. [62]

After working nearly a year upon this Boston Public Library design, I had spent two years abroad as a Rotch Traveling Scholar. Indeed, Mr. McKim believed that this experience so qualified me for the directorship of the American Academy in Rome that he asked me to take Mr. Austin W. Lord's place as director.

At that time, I was assisting Professor William Ware in the School of Architecture at Columbia, who asked me to decline the invitation as he thought I could be of more service to more students here in New York than in Rome, [63] However, when the opportunity to help on the Washington plan came along he considered the new work of national importance and consented to my undertaking it. Mr. William Parsons proved a more than satisfactory substitute at the school during my year's absence.

Arrangements were quickly made for starting the preliminary studies on the Washington plan and directing the work of the gradually increasing drafting force.


As previously stated, I had worked with Mr. McKim upon the design for the Boston Public Library. The Washington work started with the same enthusiastic spirit and on much the same basis as in the days, and nights, of work in Boston. The environment, however, was totally different and the atmosphere of the New York office did not inspire the personal confidences which arose from contacts when work was being carried on in his residence on Beacon Street. [64]

Mr. McKim's work upon the Boston Public Library design particularly in its preliminary stages and later in bending those in control to his will, was so characteristic of the man and his methods that an account of it is not here out of place.

In these Library studies not only were ideas and suggestions seized, tried and ruthlessly discarded, but designers as well. Létang of Technology fame, the first Beaux Arts professor of architecture to teach in this country, C. Howard Walker, and others—all skilled men—contributed their ideas of what a library should be and their efforts were simply filed away among many other discarded drawings. [65] Like Henry Bacon, I early discovered a method of working with Mr. McKim which enabled me to outlast his other assistants, that consisted chiefly in first working longer than he did and in addition possessing a facility of rapidly putting his ideas on paper. With the offices in his residence, the draftsman working late was often asked to share his dinner and seldom after a long evening session were beer and sandwiches omitted. In studies of the elevation, which particularly worried him and for which he had received no inspiration from earlier draftsmen, I made a systematic series of some thirteen elevations employing every possible columnar or pilaster treatment.

At the foot of the staircase on the first floor of the office-residence hung a large transparency of the Colosseum in Rome. After a discouraging day and a restaurant dinner to change the scene, we entered the house. Mr. McKim turned on the transparency light, sat on the bottom step studying the arcade treatment with its three-quarter columns which we had several times tried unsuccessfully to mold to the Library elevations. Suddenly he exclaimed, "Bird, look at the difference between the two sides. How much finer it looks where the columns have been stripped off and only the pier treatment is left. Pier treatment! Come upstairs quickly. Let's take off all the columns!" I made a quick tracing of the last study but without columns, the arches with imposts similar to the stripped section of this famous ruin. The greatest amount of study that night was devoted to the basement fenestration, to the relation of the basement windows to the arcade above and whether their heads should be round or square.

Staggering into the office the next morning, I found Kellogg, the head draftsman, studying the previous night's work. At that moment Mr. McKim also came in. Kellogg exclaimed, "Why, Mr. McKim, this is the Library of Sainte-Genevieve." [66]

"Get the photos," he replied.

Sure enough, there was such a similarity between the two compositions that today McKim's reputation as a copyist is more firmly fastened upon him. He would have had, however, no compunction in taking any suggestion bodily from the Paris Library, but in this instance the precedent for the Boston design was a classical one and not the Paris example. So in the Washington plan studies, no matter the source, McKim had no scruples in appropriating any suggestion.

There is every evidence that the original idea for the Mall treatment was proposed by Mr. Olmsted, yet Mr. McKim, perhaps unconsciously, made every one feel his was the authorship. It may be that McKim's charm worked upon Mr. Olmsted as it did on others of us who were closely associated with him, namely we were so proud that McKim thought enough of our efforts to claim them his own that it never occurred to us to dispute the parentage of our ideas. [67]

The value of an exhibit in advancing the public interest in a project was illustrated in the Boston Library example, later duplicated, but on a larger scale, in the Washington scene. In the Boston example the reason for publicity was the asking of an additional appropriation for the Library. Like many of Mr. McKim's projects, during the studies, cost never entered his mind, but later he usually succeeded in somehow inducing his clients to spend the additional money. In the case of this Library he had the Board of Aldermen to contend with in addition to the Library trustees. For weeks we worked upon an exhibition, plans, perspectives in line and color; a curvilinear perspective of the courtyard was made by the writer and mounted on a curved background and viewed only from a peephole.

When the exhibit was ready, the first attack for more funds was made upon the trustees at a dinner given ostensibly to the staff, but the trustees were all invited and were seated indiscriminately among the office boys and draftsmen, an arrangement not at first a complete success, owing not to the stuffiness of any of the trustees, but to the awe and embarrassment of the draftsmen. The central decorative feature of the table was a huge cake, a caterer's queer interpretation of what was originally intended as an accurate model of the final design for the Library. Its crazy features so fascinated Mr. McKim that he hesitated having it cut. Everyone contributed something to the entertainment the final event being what today would be called a tap dance by an office boy at close range on top of the cleared dining table. The trustees then viewed the exhibit.

For the inspection by the Board of Aldermen, a different procedure was followed. The exhibit was hung in a large dining room of an exclusive Boston Club. After an examination of the drawings and a careful explanation of the design and the necessity for additional funds, the Board was asked to go into the adjoining room for their discussion, which they might wish private. Upon tables in that room were grouped all the resources of the club's kitchen and wine cellar. After an unusually long closed session, the trustees were finally informed there would be no difficulty about the additional money needed.

In this Boston incident may be seen the precedent for the manner in which the Washington plan was later handled. The success in the Boston instance justified Mr. McKim in the lavish expenditure of money and labor on the Washington plan. While politics alone prevented the official authorization of the scheme, the illustrative drawings and models carried such force that there have been but few radical departures made since, and those were due to changed conditions.

The organization of the drafting office once under way, study of the various individual problems was begun. While the official report of 1901 unfolds the proposed development in a most orderly manner; while the work of the Commission with its excellent illustrations seems to reflect long and carefully coordinated study, the reverse was the case.

In the preparation of the material each section was developed independently, and while the Mall itself had been so studied abroad by Mr. McKim and Mr. Olmsted that little was left to complete it, the same cannot be said of the other details.

The Monument Gardens [pl. IX] were in a constant state of flux and the lack of coordination left many ragged ends. The most casual inspection will show the want of any organic tie between the Monument Grounds and the Lincoln Memorial beyond. The same is true to the south in the Washington Common section. Mr. Olmsted states:

It was in that eleventh-hour rush to finish the drawings that some parts of the plans had to go through without the same deliberate study and unanimous unqualified approval by the Commission as a whole which was given to the major decisions. Among the parts thus unavoidably hurried to a finish were the designs for the eastern end of the Mall vista, from the Capitol to and including 'Union Square;' those for the rearrangement of the Tidal Basin area; and those for some of the details of the Washington Monument Gardens: by way of distinction from the major and earlier decisions dealing with the width and character of the main Mall vista and its enclosing rows of elms; the framing of the Washington Monument by an orderly expansion of the frame of elms flanking the Mall first devised in the plan by McKim and me on a piece of quadrille paper in a train en route from Budapest, to Paris in 1901; the development on the site afterwards assigned to the Lincoln Memorial, of a great terminal monument of a form non-competitive with the Capitol dome and the Washington Monument; the introduction west of the Monument Grounds of a long reflecting basin; the opening through of the White House axis to the southward, at a relatively low elevation, past the west side of the Washington Monument; and the development of a southern monumental focal point on the White House axis at its intersection with the line of Maryland Avenue in such a way as to leave the axial view from the White House down the river unobstructed by any bulky monument on the axis itself. [68]

Much study was given the problem of a proper base for the huge shaft of the Washington Monument. The location of the wide steps in reference to the monument was a perplexing question. In order to properly study this relationship, a rough model was made and one day while experimenting with the relative position of the shaft to these proposed steps, Stanford White rushed in on some business question. As he started to go Mr. McKim asked, "Stan, look at this. What do you think of the Monument placed here?" "No," said White without hesitation, seizing the Monument model, "put it there!" and rushed impetuously away. No amount of study on our part could improve that snap decision. Nothing could better reveal the difference in the characters of the two men or their approach to a problem.

Mr. Burnham once remarked to me that Mr. McKim's method of study reminded him of a canary bird taking its bath—many tentative trials before making the final plunge.


While in the simultaneous study of many features there may have appeared a confusion of ideas, there was a basic plan. The general scheme for the central area had been pretty well settled upon by Mr. McKim and Mr. Olmsted in their discussions abroad. The crucial problem was the inclusion in the Mall treatment of some four hundred acres of reclaimed land lying south and west of the original river shoreline. How should this be brought into the composition?

During the visit of the Commission in Paris, Mr. McKim saw instantly the possibilities of adapting the grouping of the Tuileries-Place de la Concorde-Arc de Triomphe composition. Picturing the Louvre as the Capitol, the Tuileries gardens as the Mall, the Concorde obelisk as the Washington Monument, the Arc de Triomphe furnished the answer to the question. The axis of the Capitol-Monument should be extended westward and at some point near the river a major feature with a strong horizontal line would complete a composition far superior to that of Paris.

Mr. McKim was enthusiastic over this possibility. When arrangements were made for Mr. Burnham to meet Mr. Cassatt in London in order to make a final plea for the removal of the railroad tracks from the Mall, which question had hung over their heads during the entire trip, a veritable sword of Damocles, it was resolved that the Commission ask Mr. Cassatt to return with them to Paris in order to show him the glory of an executed composition with elements remarkably similar to those in Washington and only to be achieved by the removal of the existing railroad tracks and station.

It was not necessary, however, to convert Mr. Cassatt by showing him the possibilities to be realized only by the vacating of the Mall by his railroad. He at once informed Mr. Burnham, that while the Commission was abroad arrangements had been made with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad whereby they were willing to build a Union Station north of the Capitol provided Senator McMillan would secure an appropriation for tunneling Capitol Hill in order to make connections with the south which would then free the Mall from the intruding tracks and railroad station. [69]

While the Paris monument suggested the form and circular setting of this terminal feature, the scale, the size of the circle, the height of the mound as well as its location on the Capitol Monument axis extended, were pretty well determined on the site.

The new central area spreading over the reclaimed land was almost double the size of the Mall of L'Enfant. The new composition became a symmetrical kite shaped figure based on a Latin cross, replacing L'Enfant's "L" shaped Public Walk and President's Garden [pl. VII].

Mr. McKim often stated the reason for the selection of a strong horizontal composition for the Lincoln Memorial was that while the dome of the Capitol was a derivative of the arch, the simple lines of the Monument suggested the pier. The third architectural element was the lintel and a low colonnade would be the proper expression of that elementary form. This while originally suggested by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it was later felt would be better carried out by a low colonnade rather than by the Paris arch [pl. XI]. Whether this was the reason or an excuse for the adaptation of the Brandenburg Gate as an inspiration for the Lincoln Memorial is a matter for speculation.

Here now was a composition filling every aesthetic and spiritual requirement for this memorial. There was no hesitance on the part of Mr. McKim in adapting it to his purposes. He often explained that the form of the memorial was a most delicate situation. Despite the thirty-five intervening years and the unity in spirit brought about by the Spanish-American War there was still a strong sectional feeling. A memorial to Lincoln across the river from Arlington, the home of Robert E. Lee, would give offense to many irreconcilables. Not so a memorial to the memorable address of Lincoln at Gettysburg. This was a message of peace and good will to which no one could take offense. The Brandenburg Gate design solved the problem perfectly; for surmounting an imposing colonnade could be placed an attic on which this immortal speech would be engraved. The structure would be open both sides so there would be no question as to which way the monument faced. There was no back to be turned towards the south across the river. A statue to Lincoln could be placed near by.

While the Mall proper to the east followed L'Enfant's conception in being bordered with buildings here was to be a special treatment—a canal some two thousand feet long, bordered by green lawns, outlined by formal tree planting, backed by dense plantations with no competing buildings, creating an isolation of the Memorial which would greatly add to the dignity of the composition [fig. 8]. Similar examples of canals had been seen at Versailles and Hampton Court.

Fig. 8 The proposed development of the site for the Lincoln Memorial, seen from the Washington Monument. Senate Park Commission Report, No. 52

At the head of the canal was to rise the circular mound on which this Lincoln-Gettysburg Memorial would stand—the rond point suggested by the Arc de Triomphe setting at Paris. From this center were to lead the Memorial Bridge to Arlington and a formal entrance to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway—the basis of a system of radial avenues and paths [fig. 9].

Fig. 9 View of the Lincoln Memorial site from the old Naval Observatory. Senate Park Commission Report, No. 51

A large part of my time in the early stages of the work was spent upon the studies for the Monument Gardens. As the main presentation plan had been left to me to prepare and I had to begin laying out the many perspectives for rendering, there was little time left for me to devote to the various studies under way. I regretted seeing their completion pass into other hands while I drew the plan, superintended the start of the models and kept the ever-increasing drafting force going in the most approved head draftsman fashion of the day.

In later years when no longer spellbound by McKim's genius and the charm of his personality, an opportunity was presented of restudying the surroundings of the Monument and the termination of the Mall motive as proposed in 1901.

While the skill shown in the solution of the architectural problems of the Mall is beyond criticism, the estimate of the Commission of the Federal building requirements have by today's experience, proven sadly lacking. The tradition that the executive departments be located in the immediate vicinity of the White House was strictly followed and Lafayette Park was made the center of a group of six relatively small buildings. The buildings pertaining to the legislative branch were located around the Capitol—sixteen of them, fifteen new ones, and the Congressional Library which was already in place. The use of the triangular shaped tract of land south of Pennsylvania Avenue for Federal building sites had long been recommended but the Commission here placed structures for the District Government. [70]

It is no less unjust to condemn their estimates of Federal departmental growth than to criticize their failure to foretell the future effect of the automobile. The Monument Garden design was based on the premise that the visitor would drive his horse and buggy down the Mall to the high terrace on which the Monument was to stand, hitch it there and spend the afternoon among the charms of the Gardens and seek shade on the surrounding high wooded terraces. There was no way to reach the gardens from the Mall save afoot, down the steps. The only continuous drive from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial was outside the Mall, on B Street, NW

One of the features of the plan of L'Enfant was the use of water effects in which can be read some influence of the work of LeNôtre at Versailles. Not only was the Tiber Canal planned for transportation purposes, but the enlarged basin at its mouth afforded aquatic recreational facilities and added to the enhancement of the President's Gardens. The Tiber Canal was to have been filled from a cascade pouring from under the Congress House, while five grand fountains were distributed throughout the city. One was to be located in Pennsylvania Avenue at Eighth Street. Examples of the use of water effects in architectural compositions had been carefully studied, in the Commission's trip abroad—there are sixteen illustrations of fountains and large basins in the published report. [71] The cascade from under the Capitol was reinstated in the new plan, in a different form because Tiber Creek, once a canal, now flowed in a sewer below.

In Union Square at the foot of the Capitol Grounds there were planned two large and six small fountains while a long basin ended or began the tapis vert [pl. X]. Two large fountains flanked the shaft on the upper terrace of the Monument setting, while in the Garden below a huge circular reflecting pool formed the center of a group of longitudinal basins. From the niches in the buttress wall of the main terrace poured huge spouts of water in contrast to the placid surfaces of the garden pools. As before mentioned, the most striking water effect is found in the two thousand feet long reflecting basin of the Lincoln Memorial.

While those familiar with the work of the Commission know of Mr. Olmsted's important part in the conception of the Mall at least, there is no doubt that the major credit for the design as a whole is due Mr. McKim. No matter from what source he may have gleaned precedent or inspiration or fairly copied, after it had once passed through his hands it was unmistakably his own. Time and time again his assistants would hit upon some, to them, original motive in design. Upon showing it to Mr. McKim he would praise it extravagantly and ended always in saying, "Let me have some tracing paper. What resulted was McKim, although the designer still felt the solution was his own.

Here may be related an incident which although occurring a number of years later had a direct bearing upon the credit due Mr. McKim as author of the Plan of 1901. Mr. Charles Moore, Chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, was at the time absorbed in writing his life of Daniel Burnham and some of his enthusiasm for the ability of that individual carried over into his statements in print and into his addresses. [72] He stressed the part Mr. Burnham had played in the creative work of the Commission, to which, as its chairman, he might be accredited academically. It will be recalled that he was selected architect for the proposed Baltimore and Potomac Station, planned for Sixth and B Streets, on the Mall. He played some part in the removal of the tracks from the Mall and the establishment of the Union Station which he was commissioned to design. Whatever had been his earlier activities when the designing was under way in the New York office, his visits there were hurried, merely stopovers on his trips to or from Chicago. He would examine the sketches, praise them, and then carry Mr. McKim off to lunch. One could not fail to compare the few hours he devoted to the Commission's work with the time Mr. McKim and Mr. Olmsted devoted to the task to the neglect of their personal interests, of office hours, even at times of meals.

The day before the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial I was determined to place this matter before Chief Justice Taft who was to make the principal address. With astonishing ease I obtained an appointment for what I supposed would be but a brief interview. It lasted an hour. I told him frankly the facts as I knew them at first hand. Mr. Taft smiled and said, "it was remarkable how the character of men seems to live after them. I knew both men particularly Burnham and his work at Manila. Mr. McKim was modest, retiring, and unassuming, really shy, while Mr. Burnham was exactly the opposite and most acquisitive. Mr. Partridge, I am really indebted to you for calling this matter to my attention. I shall acknowledge tonight our debt to Mr. McKim." And he did. [73]


After a certain stage in the studies, special features of the plan were selected for illustration and were laid out by me in perspective in pencil and rendered in color by a number of the best artists of the day. The services of most of these proved difficult to secure, for a few illustrated magazines held contracts for their exclusive services. I remember calling on Mr. Alexander Drake of the Century in reference to getting his permission for one of his artists to render an extra drawing or so, and his showing me at his house one of the first private collections of ship models. [74]

At that period Hughson Hawley was the architectural artist par excellence, in New York. Indeed an exhibit of the Architectural League one year consisted almost entirely of his perspectives drawn for different architects. His facility and speed were exceptional. His skill in drawing trees appeared remarkable even to a trained draftsman, until I discovered that both he and Guerin had been professional scene painters, so it was an easy task to depict at small scale what they had been doing full size. [75]

A meeting of the selected illustrators was called by Mr. McKim in order to explain to them the work and to obtain if possible some uniformity in the character of the renderings. At this conference Hughson Hawley demanded that he be given the principal drawing, a large view of the Monument and its proposed base. Mr. McKim, knowing Guerin's broad simple treatment of rendering en masse, had always had him in his mind for this chief picture, so he told Hawley that they had already selected the artist for it. Thereupon Hawley stated that unless he was given that particular drawing to do he would not render any of them. Mr. McKim said politely, "Thank you, then, for coming, Mr. Hawley. Good-day." Nothing was left for Hawley to do but take his high hat, wrap himself in his long Prince Albert coat and his dignity, and depart.

The most remarkable speed in execution was shown in the rendering of the Monument Gardens drawing [see pl. IX], for which I recommended Charles Graham whose technique I admired. [76] I took particular care in laying out this perspective, as I wanted Graham to justify my selection. After delivering the pencil drawing in person and explaining several things Mr. McKim wanted stressed, I left. On going back to his studio the next evening to give him some additional instructions, I found the drawing was just being finished. It was the most remarkable illustration of speed in execution of a large drawing rendered in detail that I have ever seen.

Graham afterwards rendered the perspective of Union Square wherein was shown the interesting suggestion of McKim to restore in a modified form the cascade L'Enfant had envisioned as coming from "under the Congress House." Here too may be noted the unique position reassigned the Bulfinch Gate Houses which had been removed from the east front of the Capitol at some period during the many changes and additions made to that conglomeration of mediocre and able architectural talent.


The expiration of my leave of absence from the School of Architecture terminated further direct connection with the work by which I missed the final stages, until 1918 upon my return to Washington during the First World War.

At the end of this period of intense strain a reaction set in and some of the draftsmen left surreptitiously to set about their personal tasks. One day Mr. McKim came in quite unexpectedly and saw Alfred Githens quickly cover up a drawing. More in order to embarrass him than from curiosity, Mr. McKim insisted on seeing what he was concealing. Much to his surprise he saw a nearly completed humorous coat of arms, a cartoon which so charmed him that when it was finished he had it reproduced [pl. XXI]. It depicted in heraldic fashion, a shield emblazoned with a monument surrounded by elms. The Capitol dome became a helmet. The crest was a hydra-headed monster, the Commission, the caricatures of Burnham, McKim, Saint-Gaudens, and Olmsted were easily recognizable. This monster held in its extended hand a heraldic bird which it was belaying with its rolled up Commission. This bird represented myself, a perdix mart, dead partridge, driven to death by the enormous amount of work we accomplished. The motto, a Latinized favorite expression of Mr. McKim's: "Let's sock it to 'em" was "Soc Er Tuum." [77]

Much time and labor was involved in the construction of two large models under the direction of a professional model maker, George Carroll Curtis, of Boston, who styled himself a "geographical sculptor." [78]

One model shows the "disturbed conditions" as the 1901 report calls them, existing in that section extending from the Library of Congress to the Potomac River, the other, the proposed features of this rehabilitation of L'Enfant's plan [pls. XV-XVIII].

The model depicting the existing conditions was most accurately done and owes its value to the painstaking assembling of information, the taking of hundreds of photographs by Mr. Olmsted's assistant, Mr. James G. Langdon. [79]

It must not be forgotten that this description of the New York office work refers only to the development of the central area, the architectural problems. At the same time Mr. Olmsted was working in Washington equally hard upon an equally important phase, the Park System. In addition, he wrote the entire report of the Commission, ably edited by Mr. Charles Moore. [80]


The drafting work was finally completed, the models finished and the whole forwarded to Washington for the presentation of the project to the President and Congress on January 15, 1902. Mr. Brown has related many times Mr. McKim's handling of this exhibit as something quite beyond the ordinary, but to Mr. McKim's co-workers it was but characteristic performance.

The drawings were to be shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and carefully prepared diagrams had been made.

Upon seeing the hemicycle, Mr. McKim was dissatisfied with both the color of the walls and height of the ceiling. These were changed by the use of unbleached cotton, hurriedly procured. After most of the drawings were hung in accordance with the plan, he was dissatisfied and the pictures were rearranged and rehung several times. Mr. McKim sparing neither his assistants nor himself. Not until in the early hours was the arrangement finished to his satisfaction. The next day the height of the two models was changed and the entire lighting system rearranged. The opening hour approached and the room was still littered with debris. Several prominent architects invited for a preview were commandeered as janitors, led by McKim, and finished their cleaning task just as the President and Cabinet entered [fig. 10]. [81]

Fig. 10 Designers working on Senate Park Commission model already installed in the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

At the end of this exhibit in the Corcoran Gallery the material was moved to the Library of Congress where it remained for many years. [82]


The appointment of the McMillan Commission by the Senate District Committee identified the proposed development as a Senate project. Senator McMillan at an early date had prepared a joint resolution on the subject but in fear of antagonism in the House of Representatives changed the plan of procedure. Indeed the matter was so delicate that there was no appropriation made for the expenses of the committee of experts. The cost was some $60,000 met by Senator McMillan personally. Some time after the submission of the report and the imposing collection of drawings and models accompanying it, this sum was returned to him from the contingent fund of the Senate. [83]

The recommendations of the Commission called for no specific appropriation, their object being to provide a logical and harmonious plan for the placing of future public buildings and to provide for additional parkways and parks in accordance with a well considered general plan, portions of which had been proposed from time to time by various interests. The new Mall plans were not original; they were but the enlargement and extension of the plan of L'Enfant—an effort to adapt the principles of his design to new and enlarged conditions.

The entire plan was looked upon as visionary and its cost as prohibitive. Some time after the submission of the report, Mr. McKim asked if I would go to Boston and substitute for him in a talk before the St. Botolph Club. After a climax of eloquence in describing the beauties shown on the slides of this future development of the National Capital, I asked if there were any questions on the subject. A voice asked the one question which I was entirely incompetent to answer, "What will all this cost, and who is to pay for it?"

The first building to be constructed in accordance with the plan of 1901 was Union Station. This was begun in 1902 and completed in 1908. The first plans called for its placement across Massachusetts Avenue, the traffic of that street to pass in a long tunnel beneath the station. This was abandoned and the proposed building moved northward to its present location. No sooner was this new station in operation than President Roosevelt ordered the old Sixth Street station razed. An amusing aftermath occurred in the introduction of a bill in Congress to enclose the train shed and use the old structure for Government offices. This Act is said to have reached the floor of the House before it was discovered the station no longer existed. [84]

The first structure proposed for the Mall after the report of the Commission had been submitted, was an administration building for the Department of Agriculture. It was first proposed to put this structure in the very center of the Mall. This was objected to by the President and in the effort to gain more ground for this administration building it was proposed to set the building line three hundred feet from the Mall axis, making the distance between the buildings of the Mall six hundred feet, instead of the nine hundred feet planned in the McMillan Commission's Plan.

Without the knowledge of any of the members of the Commission this distance was staked out. It was Mr. Brown who discovered this and immediately called Mr. McKim's attention to what was being done. [Partridge begins quoting here from Glenn Brown's Memories, 275-277] An interview was then arranged with Roosevelt, who said at this meeting, "They told me it was according to the Park Commission plan, just a little narrower, but wide enough for anything."

"This narrowing between building lines on the Mall," McKim replied, "would destroy the whole effect. Don't you see, Mr. President," showing him the plan, "when we plant the quadruple row of trees in front of the buildings north and south of the Mall, the principal feature of the composition, the open vista shown on L'Enfant's plan, between the Washington Monument and the Capitol will be destroyed?" "I wish," Roosevelt said, "I had known this before, but I have given my assent to the six hundred feet scheme, as the engineers told me it would be wide enough for anything and only a slight modification of the park plan. Now if you will take this up with the Senate and get them to approve the nine hundred feet between buildings, I will have an opportunity to reconsider." [85]

McKim called on Senator Newlands, who arranged for a hearing before the District Committee of the Senate. Before the meeting of the Committee McKim and I [Partridge means Glenn Brown] called upon Senator Gallinger and he informed them that the matter had been submitted to the committee, they had been down to the Mall to see it as marked by the red flags, and it was in conformity with the Park Commission plans, while it was a little narrower it was "wide enough for anything." Although the committee had made up their minds, Senator Newlands insisted on giving McKim and others a hearing and Mr. Gallinger yielded.

The drawings of the Park Commission, showing this section of the Mall, were taken over to the committee room and hung upon the wall. Sketches were made showing the disastrous effect of decreasing this open space from nine hundred to six hundred feet, and hung with the other drawings. McKim called upon Burnham, Post, Olmsted, Saint-Gaudens, Frank Millet and others to defend this insidious attack upon the integrity of the Park Commission plan. Several members of the committee informed us that they had inspected the open space as shown by the line of flags and considered it "wide enough for anything" and they really did not see the use of a hearing as they had made up their minds.

McKim, Burnham, Saint-Gaudens, Post and others explained from the drawings the disastrous effect upon the composition—the destruction of the scheme as originally laid out by George Washington, and L'Enfant.

After a short discussion by members of the committee, they voted to disapprove the six hundred feet scheme and determined to introduce a resolution in the Senate that no building in the future should be erected on the Mall inside of a line four hundred and fifty feet from a line drawn from the center of the Capitol to the center of the Washington Monument. This was according to the plan of the Park Commission.

This resolution was presented by the Committee to the Senate and passed without opposition. After this action of the Senate, Roosevelt ordered the building line of the Agricultural Building placed four hundred and fifty feet from the axial line between the Monument and Capitol. This was a great victory and morally fixed the future building line in accordance with the plans. [86] [End of quote from Glenn Brown.]

There was further trouble in the attempt to place the Agriculture Building farther east and to raise the grade higher than those called for on the Mall plans. Again, the President was called upon and directed that the building should conform to the lines laid down by Mr. McKim.

The Secretary of Agriculture was very resourceful. The appropriation allotted him not being sufficient for a building the size desired, the two wings were first constructed with the thought that an additional sum would be quickly obtained for its completion. It was—after a lapse of nearly thirty years. [87]

The second building constructed on the Mall was the Natural History Museum which was placed in conformity with the building lines now ineradicably fixed. Then there was no Commission of Fine Arts and the design for this structure having met with the approval of the officials immediately interested, the contracts were let, the foundations laid and a large amount of granite cut. Mr. McKim happening to see the design, expressed great distress. He called upon the architects, Messrs. Hornblower and Marshall of this city, and at his request they restudied the central motive until it met with his approval. Thereupon the foundations of this section were dug up, relaid, and a very large amount of stonework discarded. Who met the extra cost is not recorded. [88]

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt put the restoration and modernization of the White House in the hands of McKim, Mead and White. This of course fell directly in the hands of Mr. McKim who as usual devoted so much time to its study that the work was not an asset to the firm. The small executive office to the west was looked upon by Mr. McKim as a temporary structure for he had conceived a plan for the erection of an executive office in the middle of Lafayette Park surrounded by those departmental buildings there located in the plan of 1901. [89]

The battle for the integrity of the 1901 plan knew no truce. When the office of Architect of the Capitol was left vacant by the death of Edward Clark, President Theodore Roosevelt was convinced that Brown was best fitted for that office and decided to appoint him. Upon protest from Cannon the President yielded and Mr. Elliot Woods was appointed "Superintendent." Not being an architect, the President refused to so appoint him. No sooner had Mr. Wood[s] taken office than he had sketches prepared in 1904 for the proposed Senate and House Office Buildings and a scheme for the extension eastward of the central wing of the Capitol as once proposed by Thomas Walter, the architect of the wings and of the dome. [90]

The American Institute of Architects protested against any work of that character being done save by professional architects. Therefore the designing was placed in the hands of Messrs. Carrère and Hastings of New York. Through some legal complications it was found expedient that the firm dissolve, so one structure was given to Mr. Carrère and the other to Mr. Hastings, the firm being commissioned to prepare studies of the changes in the Capitol. The two office buildings were located in exact accordance with the McMillan Plan and were completed in 1908. [91]


In May of 1910 Congress established a Commission of Fine Arts. It was the duty of that body to advise upon the location of statues, fountains and monuments to be erected in the District of Columbia, upon the selection of artists for their designing and execution. The Capitol and Library of Congress were not to be included within the provisions of the Act. President Taft by executive order extended the power of this Commission over all public buildings erected in the District. [92]

There had been previous efforts for the establishment of such a body as early as 1895 when the Public Art League of the United States was organized. This body urged the appointment of a commission to examine and pass upon designs for buildings, monuments, paintings, sculptures, with which the government was concerned. The impossibility of securing favorable Congressional action led to the awaiting of the result of the work of the McMillan Commission. The defeat of the attempt to enlarge the White House without competent professional advice may be laid to this nation-wide organization. [93]

In 1909 the American Institute of Architects took up the subject and an effort was made to obtain Congressional action. Upon finding Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, opposed to any legislation on the subject, the matter was called to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was not only in entire accord with the proposal for such an advisory body but in view of the pending battle over the site for the Lincoln Memorial suggested the creation of such a body by Executive Order. This was accordingly done and a group of thirty architects, painters and sculptors, including one landscape architect, Mr. Olmsted, Jr., were designated as a Council of Fine Arts with the Supervising Architect as Executive Officer. They were to pass upon all plans, or grounds, or the erection of any statue. [94]

Shortly after his election to office, Taft revoked the order. Within a year, however, he had an act introduced in Congress by Elihu Root creating a permanent Commission of Fine Arts to consist of only seven members. From time to time their powers were enlarged until in 1913 they covered "all questions involving matters of art in which the Federal Government is concerned." [95] Although only advisory, the moral effect of their opinions has had great weight in the guidance of the development of Washington in accordance with the plans of the McMillan Commission. Its two most noticeable services have been the defeat of the New York Avenue bridge to Arlington and the preservation of the 1901 site for the Lincoln Memorial.



The location chosen by the McMillan Commission for the Memorial to Abraham Lincoln was at that time a most unfavorable one so far as appearances were concerned. The land on which it was to stand had been reclaimed from the river bed and its appearance was such that Speaker Cannon is said to have remarked that a monument erected in that swamp would soon shake itself down with lonesomeness and ague.

The magnificent drawings prepared by the Commission now proved their worth, and caustic critics had only to view them to become converted to approval of the site.

Along the northern line of the new made land once ran the extension of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal where is now Constitution Avenue. This waterway emptied into a large boat basin at the mouth of Tiber Creek, formed by the construction of a long dock or pier. On this pier, in the center of Seventeenth Street extended stood the canal tender's house. This, in recent years, was moved westward and is in use today as a comfort station and park tool house.

In the filling of this area several lakes or fishponds were formed, well remembered from boyhood days.

Two years before the preparation of the McMillan Plan of 1901, it was proposed to construct a high level bridge to Arlington on the line of New York Avenue extended. Under the direction of the Corps of Engineers of the Army, a competition was held and four prominent bridge engineers were invited to submit designs. That of William H. Burr, associated with Mr. E. P. Casey as architect was considered the best and was premiated. [96]

In 1913 the project was revived and despite the recommendations of the McMillan plan and its proposed Lincoln Memorial-Arlington low level bridge, an appropriation was made for the construction of this New York Avenue high level project. [97]

In 1922 President Harding submitted the revived project to the Commission of Fine Arts for advice. Needless to say they brought arguments to bear which were so forceful that the Congressional Committee appointed decided to follow the plans of the McMillan Commission, thus fixing definitely for all time the composition of the 1901 plans west of the Monument.

Preservation of the site of the Lincoln Memorial upon the location fixed by Mr. McKim would have been impossible had not the later high bridge project been defeated. Mr. Bacon at that time made sketches showing the disastrous effect such a structure would have upon the appearance of the memorial.


By the year 1909 this question of a memorial to Abraham Lincoln had become a burning issue. From many suggestions, three proposals emerged: one to carry out the plan of the McMillan Commission; one to construct a memorial peristyle or hemicycle of columns in front of Union Station; and one to abandon any architectural form and build a Memorial Drive to Gettysburg. [98]

A design for a memorial in the form of a peristyle of columns enclosing the Union Station plaza was prepared by Mr. Burnham's office and presented to Congress with his recommendation [fig. 11]. When his attention was called to the fact that he was disregarding the previous recommendations of the McMillan Commission of which he had been the chair, he declared there had been a mistake and his support of the bill introduced by Representative McCall was through a misunderstanding.

Fig. 11 Daniel, Burnham's designs for a Lincoln Memorial at Union Station Plaza. Commission of Fine Arts

Mr. Brown states that Mr. Burnham explained to him personally that the plans were made by his office in order to show the unsuitability of this site. From that time on Mr. Burnham devoted his efforts to the retaining of the site shown in the plan of 1901 upon the extended Capitol-Monument axis, despite its deflection. [99]

In 1910 the National Commission of Fine Arts was created and Mr. Burnham was made chairman. This new body was asked by the Lincoln Memorial Commission to advise as to the best methods of selecting the architects, sculptors and painters to make and execute the design and to make suggestions as to its location.

The Commission of Fine Arts recommended a direct selection of a designer in preference to a competition and later named Mr. Henry Bacon as the one architect best fitted by experience, taste, and training for the solution of the problem.

To return to the early controversy—while the proposal for a memorial in front of the Union Station faded from interest after the withdrawal of Mr. Burnham's support, the same cannot be said of the Gettysburg Drive.

A powerful lobby composed of automobile manufacturers and real estate speculators became a serious menace to the realization of the 1901 plan. The American Institute of Architects and the American Federation of Arts gave the matter nationwide publicity. While the architects thought the arguments before the Memorial Committee should be confined to the aesthetic side of the question, Mr. Glenn Brown had estimates prepared and verified by Colonel W. V. Judson, the Engineer Commissioner of the District.

Two million dollars had been appropriated. Colonel Judson, appearing at the hearing, stated the estimated cost of the highway was thirty million dollars, with an annual maintenance of five million dollars. This, it was afterwards learned was the most important factor in the defeat of the Memorial Highway proposal. [100]

The most determined opponent to the McMillan Commission site was Speaker Cannon. Through his influence Mr. John Russell Pope was commissioned to make additional designs for the memorial—one to be located within the Soldier's Home Grounds and one at Sixteenth Street on Meridian Hill [fig. 12]. [101]

Fig. 12 John Russell Pope's design's for a Lincoln's Memorial on Meridian's Hill. Commission of Fine Arts

A last proposal was to construct the Memorial in Arlington and it is related that Frank Millet was a factor in its defeat. He is said to have stated to the Democratic leader of the House that the placing of the Lincoln Memorial in Arlington reminded him of the Roman custom of erecting a triumphal arch in the countries of their defeated enemies. [102]

The Lincoln Memorial Act was passed in January 1913 and was not only the final battle for an individual site but carried with it a definite authority for the entire plan of 1901.

Mr. McKim had died in 1909, and so had no voice in the execution of that feature of the plan in which he had most interest.

In 1915 the cornerstone of the present structure was laid and the Memorial was dedicated in 1922. Mr. Bacon in a technical description of his design stated, "From the beginning of my studies I believed that this Memorial to Abraham Lincoln should be composed of four features, a statue of the man, a memorial of his Gettysburg speech, a memorial of his second inaugural address, and a symbol of the union of the United States. Each feature should be related to the other by means of its design and position, and each so arranged that it becomes an integral part of the whole." [103]

We cannot find here either the force or symbolism of Mr. McKim's conceptions. The design of Bacon violated every principle Mr. McKim laid down as influencing the design. In the 1901 concept, there was to be no memorial to Lincoln the man—save a statue at the head of the reflecting basin. There was to be no difference between the front and back of the structure. In the Bacon design the enclosed room is open to the east and the structure thereby turns its back upon Virginia and the South across the river. The thirty-six columns mean nothing. It is difficult for the casual spectator to determine the number. Few know that this was the number of states in the Union at this period. The columns are pure decoration and play no structural part in the design. The general profile, however, was made to follow the structure designed by Mr. McKim. It does not seem appropriate that a naturalistic, a life-like portrait statue should be enclosed in so formal an architectural setting. There is scant harmony between the delicate refined Greek style selected and the gaunt, ill-clad figure of the Lincoln of history.

The arrangement of the final plan is such that the Gettysburg address must have a balance of necessity of the same size and character. The preeminence and meaning of this mighty document is thereby destroyed. I feel as did Mr. Brown who when he passed the present memorial, could not refrain from picturing "McKim's open portico with a brilliant sun disappearing behind the hills of Virginia as seen through the colonnades, in contrast to the bleak cella walls of Bacon's design." [104]


When the construction of the reflecting basin was under consideration, Mr. Moore desired to place its designing in my hands. For some unexplained reason, instead of writing me he requested Mr. Langdon, then visiting New York, to see me personally. Fortunately I was out of town and he was unable to get in touch with me. I say fortunately, for Mr. Moore then entrusted the problem to Mr. C. E. Howard of Mr. Olmsted's office, a trained landscape architect, experienced in this type of construction, which pertained more to the landscape than the architectural field. [105]

The characteristic feature of the 1901 design of this basin was a cross arm similar in character to the canal at Versailles but local details influenced the plan [pl. VII]. The position of this cross arm was a recall of the emphasis shown in L'Enfant's plan of the north-south axis line of the intersection of New York and Virginia Avenues. In both L'Enfant's plan and on Ellicott's adaptation thereof this intersection is marked by a very large reservation and a prominent water feature—for what purpose is not known.

In the execution of the reflecting pool, the cross arms were suppressed upon the recommendation of the Commission of Fine Arts who agreed with Mr. Bacon that a rigid simplicity would be in better harmony with the severe Doric style of the Memorial. Also in the interest of simplicity, the elaborate water effects and the Renaissance arcade terminating the pool of 1901 were replaced by the present severe steps and terraces. The erection of the temporary Munitions building would have blocked all development of a cross arm, had one been decided upon. The original cross-arm treatment is still recalled however in the curved segment of the outer row of trees on the south side, which persists in the plan like a rudimentary organ. [106]

The intrusion of the temporary war buildings of 1918 sadly marred the uniform development of this feature of the McMillan Plan and even when removed their location will always be distinguishable by the differences between the growth of newly planted trees and the existing planting.


The inclusion of the huge shaft of the Washington Monument in the Mall composition was a difficult task. The obelisk was located off both the main axes of the original plan and was so tremendous in scale as to dwarf anything in its immediate neighborhood. The suggestion for a base consisting of a long simple flight of steps with strong buttresses was a stroke of genius on the part of Mr. McKim.

The Commission however approached the problem from the opposite side, and describes in its report the bordering elms of the Mall climbing the slope and spreading themselves to the right and left on extended terraces, strengthening the broad platform from which the obelisk rises. The description then speaks of the wide view obtained of the busy city from the groves on the terraces. [107]

Much as one may admire the excellent architectural treatment of the base of the Monument, the question arises in the minds of the auto riding laymen of today, as to how one got down to the garden level from the Mall. You walked!

There was no action taken in the construction of these gardens until in 1931 an appropriation of $30,000 was granted for preparation of plans, nearly all of which was expended in investigation of subsoil conditions, and upon expert advice from experienced engineers as to what effect such ill balanced cuts and fills as required in the 1901 plan would have upon the stability of the shaft. [108]

South of the Monument Gardens across the Tidal Basin stretched the proposed Washington Common on the axis of the White House [fig. 13]. The end of this southern short arm of the cross was to be marked by a site for a major memorial, a Pantheon or a monument to some individual, the selection of whom was to be left to the future. This structure was to be surmounted by a low dome. Indeed, this was so favored an architectural motive with Mr. McKim that in the designs for the buildings bordering the Mall nearly every structure has one or more of them. [109]

Fig. 13 The Washington Common and public playgrounds rendered by Jules Guerin, showing proposed memorial building, baths, theater, gymnasium and athletic buildings. Senate Park Commission Report, No. 54

The surroundings of this site for a Memorial were in violent contrast to the isolation sought in the location of the Memorial to Lincoln. Here was to be supplied the dearth of recreation facilities in the National Capital, "the one city in this country where the people have the most leisure." Boat houses, gymnasia equipped with all conveniences were to be grouped here; playgrounds for small children, with swings and sand piles were to be provided—all to be concentrated in a most inaccessible area. No consideration seems to have been given to how the users would get there. The future stadium is foretold in the huge playground or drill field with its enclosing terrace for spectators. All this was to be upon land reclaimed from the Tidal Basin. There was little enough left of that indispensable adjunct to the Washington Channel and that remainder was to be still further reduced by a large artificial island.



One of the features of the Arc de Triomphe composition was the spreading radial avenues. In following this precedent in the emplacement of the Lincoln Memorial, there was only one enforced radial line in the desired pattern—that of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Another was supplied by the introduction of a new avenue leading from the site to the intersection of New York and Virginia Avenues.

This diagonal line happened to suggest to the imaginative mind of McKim a shield in which might be enclosed the entire development of the Central Area. This was considered of such importance that he insisted that I emphasize it in my rendering of the plan [pl. VII]. So a brilliant treatment of buildings and parks was brought out into a shield-shape pattern by means of dark washes on the surrounding areas.

A caustic critic described this effect as a "brilliant mosaic, bounded with a neat line around all this glory, beyond which was darkness and chaos." [110]

The more prosaic in the office spoke of the figure as "Mr. McKim's kite." The poetic carried the imagery further and saw in it a crusader's shield, emblazoned with a cross with the Monument gardens at the intersection of its arms. The cross-shaped plan of the central feature may then be considered as subdivided into quadrants and in their descriptions we have fallen into the habit of designating each Federal building development within the kite, according to their relative cardinal grouping.

The northwest section was first spoken of as the Northwest Triangle until the expanding building area destroyed its outline. It is now referred to as the northwest rectangle.


In the northwest section or quadrant of the shield of the McMillan Plan, all rectangular streets south of the bounding avenues were eliminated save Eighteenth Street. A group of buildings was proposed along Seventeenth Street facing the Ellipse, based upon the existing Corcoran Gallery of Art. This arrangement was very unstudied. [111] So small wonder when it was proposed to erect the Pan American Building in 1908, the suggested location for a building on this corner was disregarded and the structure placed in the center of the plot providing a proper approach and a setting worthy of the design. In 1924, the National Academy of Sciences was erected directly on the line of the proposed avenue from the Lincoln Memorial to the intersection of New York and Virginia Avenues. This destroyed any chance of conserving this academic kite shaped figure within the borders of which the Federal buildings were to be grouped. It is reported the Commission of Fine Arts had considerable difficulty in compelling the architect Bertram Goodhue to abandon his latest mission style and to design something in harmony with the classic formality of the Lincoln Memorial. [112] Indeed the architect was in favor of another site where his talents would be untrammeled.

The erection of the National Academy of Sciences blocking a major radial avenue of the Lincoln Memorial surroundings, with the full approval of the Fine Arts Commission, seemed at first a grave departure from the McKim plan, but a most casual examination of that plan reveals a weakness which was remedied in placing here the proposed structure.

In the desire to conserve the Kite or Shield figure, there was left an awkward shaped area of privately owned land thrust between the Naval Hospital grounds and the proposed Northwest park area, whose tract extended south to B Street [fig. 14].

Fig. 14 The National Capital Park and Planning Commission's "The Mall—Central Area. Study for Development-1928" National Archives, RG 328

Any private building or apartment house erected here would have been carried out to the building line of B Street, and not only would have ruined the appearance of that thoroughfare but would have sadly marred the background of the Lincoln Memorial.

The establishment of the present long, line of buildings of the character of the Pan American and of the Academy of Sciences was far preferable to an academic plan-form which would have been apparent only on a rendered drawing.


That section of the Central Area lying between Pennsylvania Avenue, B Street, Constitution Avenue, and Fifth Street is usually designated as "The Triangle" and not the "Northeast Triangle." Our system of nomenclature has at once failed, as did the attempt to conserve the academic shield form. In the plan of 1901 this triangular area was assigned to sites for the civic buildings of the District of Columbia. A municipal building, Courts, Armory, and a market filled nearly the entire plot. [113]

The use of this land south of Pennsylvania Avenue for public buildings had long been recognized as desirable. Several of the plans presented at that memorable convention of the American Institute of Architects in 1900 devoted this area to government use. The plan prepared for Colonel Bingham antedating the McMillan Plan, not only showed the south side of the Avenue lined with Federal structures, but the buildings are shown placed parallel to that street [fig. 7].

In 1910 despite the recommendations of 1901 it was proposed to use the area between Twelfth and Fifteenth Streets, the Avenue and B Street for three Federal buildings for Justice, Commerce and Labor. [Partridge was remembering incorrectly here. Commerce and Labor were combined in one department at that time and so required only one building; the third building was to be for the State Department.] A competition was held among the leading architects of the country and designs for these three buildings selected. [114]

In 1916 a Public Buildings Commission was appointed with a view of ultimately providing permanent quarters for all the Governmental activities within the District. They were to determine what buildings were needed and their proper locations, with due provision for future expansion. They approached the question scientifically and estimated from all the data then available, the future governmental requirements to the year 1941. An examination of these estimates of 1916 is illuminating in the light of today's requirements and disarms any criticism of the inadequacy of the provisions made for future Federal buildings by the McMillan Commission in 1901. [115]

The office building on Rawlins Square for the Interior Department had just been completed and the Commission noted in its report that "it is of great size. . .and it has had an important effect in shifting the center of departmental activity to the west." [116] It may be here noted that, this location was foreign to any suggestion for Federal building sites in the plan of 1901.

The Public Buildings Commission felt that in the construction of the departments of Commerce and Labor on grounds already purchased along Fifteenth Street facing the Ellipse a corrective of the westward movement would be applied.

In accordance with the 1901 plan a municipal building had been considered, and was completed in 1908, but not upon the site indicated in the plan of 1901. [117]

Federal interests had already invaded the District area as previously noted. The old, massive, Romanesque Post Office had been erected in this area in 1899 and sheltered the City Post Office as well as the Post Office Department. The report of the Public Buildings Commission states that this massive building was designed "before the necessity for an adequate amount of light and air was sufficiently recognized even by government builders. The government is fortunate in having but one example among its public buildings." [118]

Recognizing the necessities of the municipality, the Public Buildings Commission's plan provided for a market upon the same site as allotted in 1901. A smaller armory was to be placed on the site of today's Post Office Building. [119]

The matter seems to have rested here until 1919 when a continuing Public Buildings Commission was created and in 1922 submitted its first report. It pointed out the immediate needs of buildings for the storage of archives, for the Department of Agriculture, a General Accounting Office, and a building for the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

They advocated buildings of a "modern office-type structure with due regard for the safety, health, and comfort of the people who are to use it. To embark upon a program of building Greek Temples for housing the Government departments is both foolish and unnecessary. These buildings are exceedingly expensive and wasteful of space." [120] A very illuminating example of a building of this type is the Treasury Annex, located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Madison Place [fig. 15]. [121]

Fig. 15 Rendering of Treasury Annex Building, designed by Cass Gilbert, Jr. Public Buildings of the District of Columbia; Report of the U.S. Public Buildings, Commission, 1918, Plate B

From time to time both this Public Buildings Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts stressed the need for the construction of new government buildings, the more practical minded Public Buildings Commission calling attention to the ever mounting sum for rental in privately owned buildings, and the Fine Arts Commission urging in addition that such buildings be erected in conformity to the plan of 1901.

To add to the confusion at this period over the question of public building locations there was introduced a rider to a Public Buildings appropriation bill limiting the location of Federal buildings to the south of Pennsylvania Avenue. This was apparently aimed at the defeat of the 1901 plan for grouping such structures around Lafayette Square. [122]

This legislation removed the nebulous protection of the unauthorized McMillan Plan and immediately a costly hotel on the north and two office buildings on the west side were erected. [123] Although protests were made by the American Institute of Architects and bills were introduced to remedy the situation, they were without results.


That half of the kite to the south, lying between Maryland Avenue and South B Street (Independence Avenue), balancing the Triangle, was designated in the 1901 plan as Park Area. There was but a single building here shown, the then proposed Bureau of Engraving and Printing on its former site [pl. VII]

B Street South in the existing plan of that day extended westward to Fifteenth Street and then stopped. The Lincoln Memorial, Monument, Capitol axis, as we have already noted, ran some 177 feet south of the true east-west Mall axis at the Monument thus making the space left for buildings much less on the south side than on the north side of the Mall. Had Mr. McKim carried B Street straight through to the river, the Monument gardens would have been unbalanced. Therefore he preferred sacrificing the continuity of B Street South, in favor of a symmetrical plan for the Monument grounds treatment.

This left a disrupted B Street, the offset of which, in view of today's traffic requirements presents a serious problem.

The south outline of the shield was quickly lost in the rapid developments since 1925. The refusal of the Army Engineers to allow any change in the area of the Tidal Basin destroyed all chance of executing the south arm of the 1901 composition. [124] All that could be done, when in later years a memorial to Thomas Jefferson was proposed, was to place the structure on the end of where the south arm would have been had not the practical needs of the Washington Channel taken precedence.



After many years the writer has been gradually convinced that the conception of the entire garden scheme of 1901 was wrong save for the base of the Monument, and had Mr. McKim lived and the problem been given him for execution, there would have been, without doubt, a radical revision.

A most casual study of the plan shows that in the endeavor to create a proper environment in scale with the Monument, the designer was forced to develop a central feature far too large for the whole composition, overpowering both the Lincoln Memorial and the group terminating the south arm.

This central feature took the form of a hollow Greek cross framed by high terraces surmounted by elms. The hollow of the cross-enclosed the "sunken garden," an entirely artificial conception [pl. IX]. The enclosing form concealed rather than emphasized that point of the intersection of the main axes of the plan which was considered of such importance by L'Enfant that he here suggested placing the equestrian statue of General Washington. [125]

This huge Greek cross feature formed the termination of the Mall treatment from the Capitol to the Monument, and bore no relationship to the developments west and south. It interrupted rather than carried through any continuity of treatment save on the Mall side to the east.

The structural lines of the 1901 plan for the Mall replaced L'Enfant's "Grand Avenue," bordered with gardens, by a central tapis vert, a carpet of grass, flanked on either side with a roadway and bordered with four rows of elms. This procession of elms gradually rose to the level of the mount on which the Monument stands. As described feelingly in the 1901 report, these rows of trees would "climb the slope up to the Monument, and, spreading right and left on extended terraces, form a great body of green, strengthening the broad platform from which the obelisk rises in majestic serenity." [126] This provided to the east of the composition a magnificent double sweep of trees, exactly the right distance apart to properly flank the Monument and form a marvelous silhouette against the western sky. From the west looking eastward these trees spread out on either side to frame a larger composition, the Monument plus two flanking fountains crowning the broad platform on which the shaft was to stand.

This need of a base to the huge obelisk has always been apparent but the scale of the Monument has made it a baffling architectural problem. With inimitable skill, Mr. McKim has here tied the steps, piers and flanking buttresses in one long horizontal base line in scale with the tremendous shaft but broken in detail in order to bring the various elements into human relationship. Had the treatment ended here, the result would have been superb. This solution, as an architectural problem, was perfect but, alas, from a practical standpoint it left much to be desired. True, the design was made in horse and buggy days. The automobile was then but an experiment. Even so, the casual visitor wanted some continuity in his buggy ride, but here the Mall drives ended; from the Monument terrace level there was no means of reaching the gardens below or the Lincoln Memorial beyond save by descending some eighty steps afoot, or by retracing one's route several blocks to B Street and making a detour around the entire Monument Gardens. The high terraces, crowned with those rows of elms, so eloquently described in the Commission's report purposed supplying views over the surrounding park, but as they were only some twenty feet high one would have been able to see only the branches of the trees on the ground below. Now there were factors disrupting this procession of "encircling elms."

The view down the river from the White House was one of the reasons for its location here, and so could not be blocked. Therefore on both the north and south enclosing terraces not only must the trees be omitted but the terraces themselves must be lowered so as to avoid blocking this all important vista. Then again, toward the west must be left an opening both for access to the gardens from the street level and to permit a view of the Lincoln Memorial from the Monument terrace, and in the design this opening is shown less than the width of the one to the east. We have as a final result a "sunken garden" enclosing terraces of varying heights. The gardens would be accessible only to pedestrians who would have to descend forty feet from the upper terrace or mount and descend again at the lower gaps on the north and south sides. The details of the enclosed gardens surpass in elaborateness anything at Versailles. There are fountains, cascades, pavilions, kiosks, clipped hedges, orange trees in boxes. The annual cost of their maintenance would have been enormous—in fact, prohibitive.

In studying the Monument Gardens model [see frontispiece] it is apparent that within the sunken garden one is forced too near the huge shaft for a comprehensive view and from the immediate vicinity, outside of the enclosure, the high terraces crowned with trees would have obscured any view at all of the shaft save from a considerable distance away. The roads and paths of the adjoining Lincoln Memorial and Washington Common nearly all of them at this central feature butt against the high terrace walls. As Mr. Moore stated, "time is not the essence of this problem," so here is an opportunity for further study. [127]

Unidentified and undated sketch by William T. Partridge, possibly a suggestion for the proposed memorial garden on East Capitol Street to the late Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. National Archives, RG 328, W.T. Partridge Data Files, Box 106.


Notes to Introduction

This project is dedicated to Sherry C. Birk, Honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, who in 1988 first made me aware of William T. Partridge and his memoirs when she commissioned me to compile a history of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission model of the monumental core of Washington, D.C., which Partridge helped to construct in the 1930s (now owned by the American Architectural Foundation, Washington, D.C.). I would like to express my appreciation for the guidance given me by the late Charles Atherton, Secretary of the Commission of Fine Arts, and to thank Sarah Turner, archivist at the American Institute of Architects, and architectural historians Pamela Scott, Sue Kohler, Jeffrey R. Carson, and Janet Parks for their research assistance and encouragement throughout this project. In addition, I owe a great debt to Professor Richard Guy Wilson at the University of Virginia, whose scholarship on McKim, Mead & White and American architecture and urbanism in general continues to guide me in my own work.

1For a review of the convention and a discussion of contemporary Washington, D.C., architectural and planning developments see "Seventy-first AIA Convention," Pencil Points 20 (September 1939): 540-54. See the "Program of the American Institute of Architects, Seventy-first Convention, September 25-28, 1939, Washington, D.C.," and The Fifteenth International, Congress of Architects, Report, vol. 1, 24-25 September, 1939 (Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects, 1940), American Institute of Architects Library and Archives, Washington, D.C., hereafter referred to as AIALA. The postponed meeting was finally convened in London in 1946. See "Reunion in Europe: First Postwar International Meetings of Architects and Planners," Architectural Forum 85 (December 1946): 11.

2The American Institute of Architects' 1900 convention met in Washington, D.C., 12-15 December 1900 and included a series of lectures by noted designers aimed at, in the words of American Institute of Architects president Robert S. Peabody (1845-1917), making Federal architecture and planning in the city "more worthy of the greatness and intelligence of the Republic." Speakers at the convention included Cass Gilbert, Paul J. Pelz, George Oakley Totten, and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Their lectures were later published as a government document compiled by the AIA secretary, Glenn Brown. See his Papers Relating to the Improvement of the City of Washington, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901). For further information on the 1900 convention see Tony P. Wrenn's essay in this publication.

3On the American Institute of Architects Washington, D.C., chapter exhibition see "Program of the American Institute of Architects, Seventy-first Convention, September 25-28, 1939, Washington, D.C.," 11, AIALA; Alfred Kastner and Chloethiel Woodard, "Social Function of the Architect," in The Fifteenth International Congress of Architects, Report, vol. 1, 303-11; "Proposed Role for Architects in City Planning," Architectural Record 86 (December 1939): 56-62; Gerald G. Gross, "Young D.C. Architects Make Fiery Issue of Capital Historic Plans," Washington Post, 8 October 1939, sec. B, 5; Gerald G. Gross, "Has Washington a Plan?" Architectural Forum 72 (December 1940): 52-53.

4Partridge's efforts were singled out by the four Senate Park Commission members in their final report, along with the seventeen-member team he oversaw: "To Mr. William T. Partridge, under whose able direction the drawings were prepared, and to Messrs. Baer, Butler, Chapman, Crow, de Gersdorff, Elliott, Githens, Harmon, Johnson, Kaiser, Merz, Morris, Mundy, Shephard, Trueblood, Walker and Weekes, who were associated with him in this work, the Commission desires to express its sense of obligation, not only for the skillful manner in which the work was executed, but for the interest and untiring, devotion which brought it to successful completion within a very limited period." See Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Columbia. 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, S. Rept. 166 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing, Office, 1902), 123, hereafter Senate Park Commission Report.

5See Partridge's "Nomination for Fellowship by Individual Members," 10 February 1939, submitted by Louis A. Simon, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), Walter G. Peter, FAIA, Edward W. Dunn, FAIA, Nathan C. Wyeth, FAIA, and Horace W. Peaslee, FAIA, AIALA, 6-7.

6Ibid., 2-3.

7William T. Partridge, "Memoirs of an Architect (First Revision)" undated manuscript, 2b, Avery Architectural Archives, Columbia University. I thank Pamela Scott for bringing this document to my attention.

8Ibid., 5b.

9See W. T. Partridge's three part article, "The Chateau of Blois: The Wing, of François I," in American Architect and Building News 53 (18 July 1896): 19-21 and (29 August 1896): 67-68; and 54 (December 12, 1896): 87-88. Partridge later wrote an essay on the plan of the seventeenth-century French town of Richelieu; see his "Richelieu," American Architect and Building News 77 (16 August 1902): 53-54.

10See Partridge, "Nomination for Fellowship," AIALA, 5.

11Charles F. McKim to C. Howard Walker, 31 August 1896 in Charles Moore, The Life and Times of Charles Fallen McKim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1929), 155.

12A letter us Partridge from Daniel Burnham in September 1901 confirms his work for McKim on the McMillan Commission materials at the offices of McKim, Mead & White in New York. In the letter, Burnham requested to see the materials noting, "I am informed by Mr. McKim that you will make it possible for me to look over the Washington plans upon which he is now engaged. I will, therefore, ask you to arrange so that I may see them, that is to say the work of the draftsmen of Mr. McKim and Mr. Curtis, next Sunday evening, Sept. 15, between 7 and 12 o'clock." Daniel Burnham to William T. Partridge, 9 September 1901, Daniel H. Burnham Collection, Ryerson & Burnham Archives, Art Institute of Chicago. I would like to thank Pamela Scott for making me aware of this letter.

13See Who's Who in the East: A Business, Professional and Social Record of Men and Women of Achievement in the Eastern States (1930), s.v. "Partridge, Alma B."

14See Partridge, "Nomination for Fellowship," AIALA, 6-7.

15Partridge's account of this episode is included in the manuscript. For a intone recent in-depth account of the Memorial Bridge underpass controversy, see Sue A. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts: A Brief History, 1910-1995 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1996): 16-26.

16Partridge's 1930 published essay, "L'Enfant's Methods and Features of His Plan for the Federal City," in National Capital Park and Planning, Commission (NCPPC), Reports and Plans, Washington Region: Supplementary and Technical Data to Accompany Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing, Office, 1930): 21-38, drew on the work of Elbert Peets whose writings on L'Enfant and the Plan of Washington, D.C., were included in his American Vitruvius: An Architects' Handbook of Civic Art (New York: Architectural Book Publishing, Co., 1922), coauthored with Werner Hegemann, and a series of three articles, "The Geneaology of L'Enfant's Washington," in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects 15 (April 1927): 115-19; (May 1927): 151-54; (June 1927): 187-91. Partridge's draft "Memoirs of an Architect (First Revision)" from the early 1930s also informed his article, L'Enfant's Vision: A Discussion of Development from a City on Paper to a City in Actuality," in The Federal Architect (April 1937): 34-36; 104; 106-7.

17See Partridge, "Nomination for Fellowship," AIALA, 9.

18On Partridge's work on this model, originally two separate models combined as one, see my unpublished history "NCPPC Models" (1989), in the holdings of the Prints and Drawings Collection, American Architectural Foundation, Washington, D.C.

19See Partridge, "Nomination for Fellowship," AIALA, 8.

20See Partridge's unpublished draft essays, McKim, "Memoirs of an Architect (First Revision)," and "Henry Bacon," in the holdings of the Avery Architectural Archives, Columbia University.

21See William T. Partridge to William A. Delano, 22 May 1940, and the letter from Frederic A. Delano, chairman of the NCPPC to Partridge, 13 July 1940, authorizing him to prepare a "historical statement of your old-time relations with the McMillan Commission" as well as a "record of your work with that Commission and since and of the various studies and plans you made in that connection...," National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Historical Data Files of William T. Partridge, "Personal Recollections of the McMillan Commission," Box 105, Record Group (RG) 328.

22Partridge continued to rewrite portions of the manuscript up until his death in 1955. As late as April 1953, John Nolen Jr., director of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, wrote him, "We were all delighted to have the recent letter from you, particularly with its interesting account of your further writing on the background of the McMillan Commission report. We will be glad to have the opportunity of securing copies for our files of anything you write about the McMillan report and the members of the Commission...," NARA, John Nolen Jr. to William T. Partridge, 6 April 1953, Planning Files, 1924-1967, Reports, "McMillan Commission," Box 190, RG 328.

23The full listing of the sections of Partridge's manuscript includes: I. Introduction; II. Historical Background; III. Existing Conditions; IV. Appointment of a Commission; V. Preparation-Presentation-Realization; VI. Lincoln Memorial; VII. Shield Kite; VIII. Development Since 1928 from Personal Contact; IX. The Capitol Grounds; X. Union Square: Extension of the Capitol Grounds; XI. Executive Group; XII. Municipal Center; XIII. The South Arm of the Cross; XIV. Public Buildings; XV. East Capitol Street; and appendices on Fountains; Henry Bacon and the Lincoln Memorial; Changes in Historic Buildings: Patent Office Steps; The Great Falls Power Project; Exhibitions; and Federal Architectural Styles. The full manuscript is available in Partridge, "Personal Recollections."

24William T. Partridge to William A. Delano, 22 May 1940, in ibid.

25Horace W. Peaslee, "Washington Says Au Revoir to William Thomas Partridge," Journal of the AIA 16 (December 1951): 258.

Notes to Partridge Manuscript

The official date of the Senate Park Commission Report is 1902, since it was presented in January of that year; however, much of its research and creation was carried out in 1901, which is why the Partridge manuscript refers to it as the plan of 1901.

26The special Senate Park Commission to oversee plans for what became the Senate Park Commission Report, was created in early March 1901 by the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. It consisted of four members: the architects Daniel Hudson Burnham (1844-1912) and Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909), the landscape architect and planner Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870-1957), and the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), who, due to poor health, was unable to participate in an active capacity. Originally called the "Park Commission," this group later became known as the McMillan Commission, named for its principal political sponsor, Senator James McMillan (1838-1902) of Michigan. For an account of the commission's study, see Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Columbia, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., S. Rept. 166 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902), 8-10, hereafter Senate Park Commission Report; and John W. Reps, Monumental Washington: The Planning and Development of the Capital Center (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 92-93.

27At the time that William Partridge was writing his manuscript, 1940 to 1941, three of the four members of the Senate Park Commission were dead and the senators former aide Charles Moore (1855-1942), was not well. McMillan himself had died in 1902. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. survived until 1957.

28The commission members, except for Saint Gaudens, along with Charles Moore, traveled to Europe on their fact-gathering trip between 13 June and 1 August 1901. They visited Paris, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Frankfurt, Berlin, and London. For an itinerary of their visit, see Daniel Burnham's diary entries reprinted in volume one of Charles Moore, Daniel H. Burnham: Architect, Planner of Cities (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1921), 1:149-56.

29In November 1935 Olmsted recalled working out these details with Charles McKim "on a piece of quadrille paper in a train en route from Budapest to Paris in 1901." See letter from Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., "Notes on Githen's Caricature Coat-of-Arms for the So-Called Senate Park Commission of 1901," in Partridge, "Personal Recollections," and in the "Plates" section of this volume, opposite Plate XXI.

30Partridge's views on the plan for Washington of Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1754-1825) and the role that George Washington played are a distillation from his longer article, "L'Enfant's Methods and Features of His Plan for the Federal City," in National Capital Park and Planning Commission Supplementary Technical Data to Accompany Annual Report, part 2, Studies in Continuity of Planning (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1930), 21-38. Partridge's quotes from the 4 April 1791 letter from L'Enfant to Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, are most likely taken from Elizabeth S. Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, 1791-1792, Published and Unpublished Documents Now Brought Together for the First Time (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1929), 41-42. This work included a foreword by Charles Moore, in which Moore argued that "L'Enfant claimed complete originality for his plan, and he is justified. No other person gave him substantial aid in the design, and he did not get ideas from the city plans supplied from Jefferson." Moore felt, however, that Versailles must have played a role in L'Enfant's creative imagination. "The cardinal features of L'Enfant's plan—the long vista from one focal point to another, the radiating avenues, and especially the conception of the city as a well-articulated unity—these ideas were already realized in Versailles, planned as the capital of France, the city in which L'Enfant's early years were spent," Moore quoted in Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, vi.

31L'Enfant's father, Pierre L'Enfant (1704-1787), was a painter in service to Louis XV and a professor at the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, specializing in landscape and battle scenes. Six of his battle scenes were hung at Versailles, representing French victories during the 1740s. See Allan Greenberg, George Washington, Architect (London: Andreas Papadakis, 1999), 117.

32In an undated letter to President Washington, L'Enfant described the ideal situation for the Federal House or Congress as "the western end of Jenkin's Heights (which) stands really as a pedestal awaiting a superstructure...," Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, 55.

33Jefferson's sketch dates from March 1791. John Reps has argued, "Although the distance between the Capitol and President's house was much less than L'Enfant was eventually to provide in his plan, the spatial relationship is similar, and his 'public walks' may be regarded as the genesis of L'Enfant's great mall." Reps, Monumental Washington, 10.

34L'Enfant to President Washington, undated, in Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, 53.

35L'Enfant's original plan does not locate the City Hall or "Town House" that President Washington had promised in 1791. Reps has suggested that L'Enfant intended to locate it on the large square south and slightly east of the Capitol, facing one of the five great fountains (see Reps, Monumental Washington, 20). L'Enfant's Itinerary Column (to be located on the site of today's Lincoln Park) was situated one mile from the Capitol and was to serve as the point from which all distances throughout the new Republic were to be calculated (Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, 64). For a detailed discussion of the features of the L'Enfant plan, see Partridge, "L'Enfant's Methods," 35-38.

36L'Enfant's untitled, undated plan for Washington, D.C., with later additions is in the holdings of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.

37Major Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820) was an astronomer and surveyor commissioned by George Washington in February 1791 to create an accurate survey of the intended site of the new Federal capital. Ellicott was not a city planner, and L'Enfant was engaged in March 1791 to draw up a plan for the new city. For a discussion of Ellicott's 1792 engraved version of L'Enfant's plan, see Reps, Monumental Washington, 22-25.

38This August 1791 "Progress Chart" showing development of land west of the Capitol is attributed to L'Enfant and is in the holdings of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.

39James R. Dermott's "Plan of Washington" was prepared in 1797 or 1798. Dermott was a surveyor and contractor living in the District of Columbia. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 20, n. 28.

40Partridge is incorrect here. George Washington suggested that James Hoban's design for the President's House be increased in size by one-fifth. See Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 152.

41George Washington's aversion to locating the buildings near the new Capitol was expressed in a March 1798 letter to Alexander White. See George Washington to Alexander White, 25 March 1798, in W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Papers of George Washington: Retirement Series (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 1983), 2:159.

42The equestrian statue of George Washington was authorized by the Continental Congress on 17 August 1783, when, "On a motion of Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr. Bland, it was resolved 'that an equestrian statue of Washington be erected at the place where the residence of Congress shall be established.'" A further resolution was passed stipulating that the statue should be of bronze, and that Washington was to be represented in Roman garb, holding a truncheon in his right hand, with a laurel wreath encircling his head. The statue was to rest on a marble pedestal, "on which were to be represented, in bas-relief, the following principal events in the war in which General Washington commanded in person: viz: the evacuation of Boston, the capture of the Hessians at Trenton, the battle at Princeton, the action of Monmouth, and the surrender of York." The statue was to have been executed by the best artist in Europe under the supervision of the minister of the United States at the court of Versailles. Nothing came of this elaborate and costly scheme. See S. H. Kauffmann, "Men on Horseback," in Papers Relating to the Improvement of Washington, ed. Charles Moore, 147-48.

43The plan for the Washington National Monument by Robert Mills (1781-1855) was chosen in 1845, after an initial competition held in 1836. Construction of the monument was begun in 1848, halted in 1854, and not completed until 1884. Mills' design called for a 600-foot obelisk set upon a 250-foot colonnaded base; this was later modified to the present obelisk, which rises to a height of 555 feet. For detailed accounts of Mills' work on the Washington Monument, see Pamela Scott, Robert Mills, Architect (Washington: American Institute of Architects, 1989) and Scott and Lee, Buildings, 100-2.

44The Smithsonian Institution was constructed by James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895) between 1846 and 1851 in the then-fashionable, crenellated Gothic-revival manner.

45The Botanic Garden was established in 1820, when Congress granted a triangular site of five acres at the east end of the Mall to the Columbian Institute. Its first greenhouse was erected in 1850, with larger ones constructed later, including an octagonal Gothic-revival structure from 1859, attributed to the architect Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-1887). In 1856 the garden was renamed the United States Botanic Garden and the present, newly renovated conservatory was constructed by Bennett, Parsons and Frost between 1931 and 1933. See Scott and Lee, Buildings, 65-66.

46The two streets which became Maine and Missouri Avenues were first proposed by Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844) in his 1822 plan to regularize the Tiber Creek and canal at the eastern end of the Mall. See Pamela Scott, "This Vast Empire: The Iconography of the Mall, 1791-1848," in Richard Longstreth, ed., The Mall in Washington, 1791-1991 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1991, 2002), 46.

47The Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station was designed by the Philadelphia architect Joseph M. Wilson (1838-1902) and was constructed between 1873 and 1878.

48Educated at Harvard, Charles Moore (1855-1942) served as Senator James McMillan's aide from 1890 until the latter's death in 1902. He later served as chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts from 1915 to 1937. See "Charles Moore" in Sue A. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 51-52.

49Charles Moore, "Introduction," Papers Relating to the Improvement of the City of Washington, ed. Charles Moore, 9. The American Institute of Architects' annual convention was held in Washington on 13 December 1900. Glenn Brown, the AIA's able secretary, had organized a day-long symposium, at which papers were read upon the desirability of rehabilitating Washington and the methods of accomplishing this goal.

50Representative Joseph Gurney Cannon (1836-1926), known familiarly as "Uncle Joe," opposed the project because he regarded the spending of public funds on "anything of an artistic character as a raid on the Treasury." Glenn Brown, Memories, 1860-1930: A Winning Crusade to Revive George Washington's Vision of a Capital City (Washington, D.C.: W. F. Roberts Company, 1931), 264.

51Senate Park Commission Report, 7.

52Ibid., 8-9.

53Partridge's somewhat negative characterization of Daniel H. Burnham as a "promoter architect" was no doubt influenced by Partridge's personal devotion to Charles McKim. Charles Moore described the Chicago-based architect's powerful drive: "His force commanded respect sometimes where it did not necessarily inspire affection in his contemporaries—outside or in his profession. One of the latter observed to me that he resembled 'a railway locomotive under full steam, holding the right of way.'" Moore, Burnham, 1:173. For recent scholarship on Burnham see Thomas S. Hines, Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979) and his "The Imperial Mall: The City Beautiful Movement and the Washington Plan of 1901-1902," in The Mall in Washington, ed. Longstreth, 78-99.

54Partridge's view of architectural history as a succession of architectural styles each copying from and building upon previous generations owed a debt to Joseph Gwilt's Encyclopedia of Architecture: Historical, Theoretical and Practical (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), which he recalled purchasing in installments as a young draftsman in New York City. See Partridge, "Memoirs."

55Charles McKim wrote to Daniel Burnham on 1 June 1901, telling him of a visit with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and asking Burnham to include him (Saint-Gaudens) as a member of the Senate Park Commission "in order that he may assist us, not only for the value of his counsel in many directions, but because questions of 'SITES,' demanded in our report, is one which refers as much to sculpture as to architecture, and should be determined by the highest authority in the land." Burnham agreed to McKim's proposal and Saint-Gaudens was made a fourth member of the Senate Park Commission. Moore, McKim, 186.

56Senate Park Commission Report, 25

57L'Enfant to Thomas Jefferson, 11 March 1791, in Kite, L'Enfant and Washington, 35-36.

58Ibid., 42.

59On the Senate Park Commission members' tour of Europe during the summer of 1901, see Moore, Burnham, 1:149-58; and McKim, 187-199.

60The firm of McKim, Mead & White was established in 1879, when Stanford White joined the partnership of McKim and William R. Mead upon the retirement of William B. Bigelow. In 1901 the firm's main office was located in New York City in the Mohawk Building at 160 Broadway. On the firm's work, see Leland Roth, McKim, Mead & White, Architects (New York: Harper & Row, 1983) and Richard Guy Wilson, McKim, Mead & White, Architects (New York: Rizzoli, 1983).

61Partridge's contemporary, the architect Henry Bacon (1866-1924), was McKim's first choice for overseeing the development of the Mall drawings for the Senate Park Commission Report. According to Charles Moore, "Bacon had formed a partnership with James Brite (died 1942), and they were competitors for designing the Agricultural Department building. So the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, James Knox Taylor, decided that Bacon could not take pay from the government and still be in a competition. Therefore, William T. Partridge was placed in charge of the Washington work in McKim's office and executed it in a satisfactory manner." Moore, McKim, 199-200. The plan for central Washington produced by the landscape architect Samuel Parsons Jr. (1845-1923), in association with Pentecost, was completed in mid-November 1900 and endorsed by Col. Theodore Bingham and Secretary of War Elihu Root, who, on 12 December 1900, sent the plan to the House of Representatives for favorable consideration prior to the centennial celebration of the District of Columbia as the nation's capital. The plan met with opposition from the AIA, particularly its secretary Glenn Brown, who urged Senator McMillan to advocate the creation of an independent professional commission to produce a comprehensive report on needed plans for improvements for Washington. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 78-82.

62From 1887 to 1888 Partridge worked as an unpaid apprentice to Charles McKim, with the German trained architect Paul Gmelin (1859-1937), on preliminary studies and perspective elevations for the Boston Public Library, while simultaneously employed by William Rotch Ware in Boston to create illustrations for the Service Bureau for architects for the American Architect. Partridge had moved to Boston from New York City, where he had attended Columbia University's Architecture School to qualify for the Rotch Traveling Scholarship, which he won in 1889. See his unpublished "Memoirs" and his 1939 AIA Nomination for Fellowship application for details concerning his early career.

63In 1896 Austin W. Lord (1860-1922), who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), resigned as founding director of the American School of Architecture (today's American Academy in Rome), after one year. In May 1896 the Academy instituted a three-year term for its directors. Robert Ware proposed replacing Lord with first Robert Swain Peabody (1845-1917) and second C. Howard Walker (1857-1936), neither of whom wished to give up their architectural practices. McKim had also approached Partridge about the directorship, explaining in a letter to C. Howard Walker, "Accordingly, late in May, while negotiating with Mr. Partridge for a three year's term, and in view of certain complications which arose in his case, I received from Mr. Ware, under date of May 30, a letter suggesting your name for the first year and Partridge's for the two subsequent years of the course, to which I replied in accordance with the view that the Academy is pledged as above ...." William S. Aldrich was ultimately appointed as the new director. McKim to C. Howard Walker, 31 August 1896, in Moore, McKim, 155.

64McKim's Boston office was located on two floors in one portion of the twin residences at 53 and 54 Beacon Street, which had been the home of his first wife Julia Amory Appleton's family. McKim married Julia Appelton in June 1885; she died in New York City on 3 January 1887.

65Eugene J. Létang (1842-1892), a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, came to M.I.T. in 1872 to assist William Robert Ware in teaching architecture. Létang was an advocate of precise draftsmanship and the rational classicism of his French instructor at the École, Émile Vaudremer.

66Thomas M. Kellogg (1862-1935) was McKim's chief draftsman in the Boston office for the Boston Public Library project. An M.I.T. graduate, he had been employed by the firm from 1885 until 1891, when he moved to Philadelphia and joined in partnership with John Hall Rankin, later practicing from 1903 to 1925 as part of the firm, Rankin, Kellogg & Crane. For Charles Moore's account of this episode, gleaned from Partridge, see his biography of McKim, 66. My thanks to Professor Richard Guy Wilson for information on Kellogg.

67Charles Moore notes that of the three Park Commission members, "Mr. Olmsted was the only one who had made any study whatever of the Washington problem. In a paper read before the American Institute of Architects in December 1900, he outlined a general treatment of the Mall calculated to restore the park connection between the Capitol and White House originally planned by L'Enfant—a treatment fundamentally the same as the one adopted [in the 1902 McMillan Commission Report]." Moore, McKim, 182-83. Moore described McKim's role in the development of the Senate Park Commission plan in the following terms: "Once embarked, however, he immediately began a detailed, systematic study of that portion of the problem with which he was particularly competent to deal the relation of public buildings and monuments to landscape. Within nine months, under his direct personal supervision . . . the plans agreed upon by the Commission after discussion were worked out.... From Burnham and Olmsted he got vitally important cooperation in criticisms and suggestions. He visualized the problem both as a whole and in its several parts, and then worked it out as he worked out all his creative problems . . . he strove not for originality, but for perfection." Moore, McKim, 184-85.

68Frederick Law Olmsted, "Note on Githens' Caricature Coat-of-Arms," in Partridge, "Personal Recollections." See Pl. XXI.

69See memorandum from Daniel H. Burnham to James McMillan, September 1901, in Moore, Burnham, 1:160-61.

70The Senate Park Commission Report states, "There is a present and pressing need for new buildings for existing Departments. The Department of Justice is without a home. . . . The State, War, and Navy Departments, now housed in a single building, are in so crowded a condition that they are occupying additional rented quarters. For the sake of convenience these Departments should be accessible to the White House, which is their common center. The proper solution of the problem of the grouping of Executive Departments undoubtedly is to be found in the construction of a series of edifices facing Lafayette Square, thus repeating for those Departments the groups of buildings for the Legislative and Judicial departments planned to the Capitol Grounds." The report also recommended that the space between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Mall be occupied by "the District Building, the Hall of Records, a modern market, an Armory for the District militia, and structures of like character," Senate Park Commission Report, 64 and 29.

71In actuality, there are more than twice that number of photographs in the report showing fountains and bodies of water seen by the commission members on their 1901 trip. Some of these photographs were taken by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. See Appendix F, "Photographic Enlargements," in the Senate Park Commission Report, 151-54.

72Charles Moore's two-volume biography, Daniel H. Burnham: Architect, Planner of Cities was published in 1921.

73In his dedication delivered on 30 May 1930, Chief Justice William Howard Taft quoted from the 1902 Senate Park Commission Report concerning the siting of the proposed Lincoln Memorial, noting, "Here then was the conception of the Memorial we dedicate today. Not until 1911 was the idea carried forward.... The [Lincoln Memorial] Commission..., consulted the Fine Arts Commission, made up of Burnham, Millet, Olmsted, French, Hastings, Gilbert, and Moore, who urged the present site and recommended as the man to design and build it Henry Bacon, the student and disciple of McKim. McKim was the dean of architects of this country, and did most among us to bring the art of Greece to appreciation and noble use. Bacon has been his worthy successor." William Howard Taft, "Address of William Howard Taft, Chief Justice of the United States, Chairman of the Lincoln Memorial Commission, in Presenting the Memorial to the President of the United States," in Office of the Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, The Lincoln Memorial, Washington (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927), 85.

74Alexander Wilson Drake (1843-1916) was an artist and engraver on wood who studied at the Cooper Institute in New York City and from 1870 until his death was head of the art department at Scribners Monthly, which became the Century and St. Nicholas magazine.

75Hughson Hawley (1850-1936) was a British-born watercolorist and architectural artist who practiced in New York City. He specialized in painting cathedrals and was noted for his tendering of skies.

76Charles Graham (1852-1911) was an American painter and watercolorist who specialized in rendering architectural and urban landscapes. He was best known for his series of paintings that depicted the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

77Alfred Matron Githens (1876-1973) was a New York architect trained at the École des Beaux-Arts (1903-5), who worked for both Cass Gilbert and Charles McKim. Githens taught architecture at Columbia University (1918-21; 1925-26) and at Princeton (1927-28). His cartoon is reproduced, without any explanation as to its meaning, in Moore, Burnham 1:165-66. Glenn Brown also describes it in his Memories, 281. For Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s account of the creation and meaning of the piece, see his "Note on Githens' Caricature Coat-of-Arms," in Partridge, "Personal Recollections." During the busiest period in the autumn of 1901, while preparing the renderings for the Senate Park Commission Report, Partridge supervised a staff of over fifteen draftsman, who were listed by Charles Moore as: Baer, Butler, Chapman, Crow, de Gersdorff, Elliott, Harmon, Johnson, Kaiser, Merz, Morris, Mundy, Shephard, Trueblood, Walker, and Weekes. The Senate Park Commission Report, 123.

78The Harvard-educated explorer George Carroll Curtis (1873-1926) received gold medals for his work on "geographic" models at the Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904) international expositions. In addition to the two large-scale models made of the Mall area before and after the proposed changes, a smaller one showing the proposed treatment of the area around the Washington Monument was also created in McKim's office. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 101. On Curtis, see "George Carroll Curtis, Geographic Sculptor Dies in Boston at the Age of 53," New York Times, 3 February 1926, 25.

79Olmsted's assistant was James O. Langdon. See note 105 for more information on him. See also note 13 in Timothy Davis' essay in this volume.

80Charles Moore notes in his biography on Burnham, "Meantime, the report to be made by the Park Commission to the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia was being prepared by Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Moore, who gathered a wealth of photographs of significant European works to supplement the reproduction and drawings. The report of the Senate Committee transmitting the Commission report to the Senate and giving a history of the undertaking, together with unqualified approval of the new plans, was written by Mr. Moore, and was unanimously approved by the [Senate] Committee [on the District of Columbia]," Moore, Burnham, 1:166.

81The models and drawings created by Partridge and his team for the Senate Park Commission were exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from 15 January to 25 February 1902.

82Unfortunately, the Senate Park Commission renderings (many of which were oversized, large-scale presentation drawings) presented to the Division of Prints at the Library of Congress in 1902 were subsequently dispersed or destroyed. The surviving drawings were transferred to the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. The two models were restored in the 1980s, portions of which are now on display at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

83John Reps has gone into great detail concerning the financing of the Park Commission's work. An original estimate of $15,000 was to be appropriated from the Senate's contingency fund. This was increased at certain points once the project was underway, not from Senator McMillan's personal funds, but from Charles Moore, himself. See the letter from McKim to Moore, 24 December 1901, in Reps, Monumental Washington, 103.

84Daniel Burnham's Union Station was constructed between 1903 and 1907. The Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station was razed in 1907. See Scott and Lee, Buildings.

85Partridge begins a quote here from Glenn Brown, 275-77. For an in-depth discussion of this very complicated story see, Dana Dalrymple's essay on the Department of Agriculture building in this volume.

86The Senate Committee on the District of Columbia Hearing was held on 12 March 1904.

87The Agriculture Department building's two wings, designed by Rankin, Kellogg & Crane in 1904 to 1908, were joined by a central administrative unit completed in 1930. At that time, the old Agriculture Department building to the north, located on line with James Renwick's Smithsonian Institution, was torn down.

88The National Museum, today's Museum of Natural History, was designed by Partridge's first employer James Rush Marshall (1851-1927) and his partner Joseph Coerten Hornblower (1848-1908) between 1904 and 1911.

89The west wing offices of the White House, designed in 1902 by McKim, were meant to be temporary, in keeping with the idea that Daniel Burnham had proposed of constructing a permanent suite of offices in the center of Lafayette Square, surrounded by the various departments of the executive branch. For Burnham's suggestion, see his letter to Charles Moore of 14 April 1902, quoted in Moore, McKim, 206, n.l.

90Elliot Woods (1865-1923) was born in Manchester, England and was appointed Superintendent of the Capitol by President Theodore Roosevelt in February 1902. He served in that position until his death in 1923.

91In April 1904 Carrère and Hastings were retained to design the House and Senate Office buildings. Thomas Hastings (1860-1929) designed the House Office Building, which was completed in 1907. John Mervin Carrère (1858-1911) designed the Senate Office Building, which was completed the following year.

92The legislation creating the Commission of Fine Arts was approved on 17 May 1910. President Taft's Executive Order No. 1259 was dated 25 October 1910. See Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 3-4, 241-42.

93Glenn Brown was an active force behind the organization of the Public Art League and was a key participant in the effort to thwart Col. Theodore Bingham's 1900 plan to enlarge the White House. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 83 and Brown, Memories, 357-65.

94In early January 1909 an AIA committee appealed to President Theodore Roosevelt to establish a Bureau of Fine Arts to advise on plans for all future public buildings, bridges, parks, sculpture, and painting. Roosevelt approved the suggestion that month and established a Council of Fine Arts composed of thirty experts from all parts of the country. The council had one meeting, at which the location of the Lincoln Memorial as suggested by the Senate Park Commission Report was approved. See Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 2-3.

95Executive Order No. 1862, issued by President Woodrow Wilson, 28 November 1913; ibid., 242.

96The Chief of Engineers of the Army invited four bridge engineers, L. L. Buck, William H. Burr, William R. Hurton, and George S. Morrison, to prepare plans for the bridge. The submissions were submitted to a jury composed of four experts, including Charles E McKim's partner, Stanford White (1853-1906), and architect James G. Hill. Professor Butt's heavily decorated entry was selected, but with an estimated cost of $4,860,000, it was never constructed. See the Senate Park Commission Report, 56, and Reps, Monumental Washington, 128.

97In 1913 the Arlington Memorial Bridge Commission was established by Congress with President Wilson as chairman.

98The Lincoln Memorial Commission was officially created in June 1902 but did not hold its first meeting until 1904. Its official report authorized that year was not submitted to Congress until 1909. Its author, Representative James McCleary of Minnesota, set forth the idea of a monumental highway, or "Lincoln Road," from Washington to Gettysburg, as the most appropriate memorial to President Lincoln. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 155-56.

99Brown, Memories, 284, 347.

100Another opponent of the proposed Lincoln Memorial Highway was Secretary of War Elihu Root (1845-1937). John Reps quotes Root recalling how he dealt with the highway proposal: "I learned there was real estate speculation going on the route of the proposed highway. I got up a public meeting and went over and charged that this speculation existed, and they scuttled under their beds." Reps, Monumental Washington, 156; see also Moore, Burnham, 2:133, n.l.

101In late August 1911 the New York architect John Russell Pope (1874-1937) was asked by the Lincoln Memorial Commission, at Speaker Joseph Cannon's insistence, to prepare additional studies for the memorial to be erected on the grounds of both the Soldiers Home and Meridian Hill. In December 1911 these plans were reviewed along with Henry Bacon's studies for the memorial in its present site in Potomac Park. The Lincoln Memorial Commission approved the Potomac Park site in February 1912. U.S. Lincoln Memorial Commission, Lincoln Memorial Commission Report, 62d Cong., 3d Sess., 1913, S. Doc. 965, 9-10, hereafter Lincoln Memorial Commission Report.

102Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912) was an American painter who had first worked with Burnham on the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition. He was a member of the Commission of Fine Arts from 1910 to 1912 and perished on the RMS Titanic in April 1912. He is quoted by Partridge in Moore, Burnham, 2:135.

103Henry Bacon quoted in Lincoln Memorial Commission Report, 13.

104Brown, Memories, 295.

105James G. Langdon (died 1950), a city planner and landscape architect, was Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s associate. Clarence E. Howard (dates unknown) was a landscape architect and longtime employee in the Olmsted Brothers firm. He designed the landscaping of the grounds between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. See Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 12.

106In March 1919 the Commission of Fine Arts began studying the issue of retaining the crossarms as part of the final Reflecting Pool design. By early 1920 the members were split, with Thomas Hastings and Cass Gilbert favoring a retention of the crossarms as originally envisioned by Charles McKim, and Peirce Anderson, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., and James Greenleaf in accord with Henry Bacon's view that elimination of the crossarm would enhance the scale and design of the Lincoln Memorial. The members decided to build the pool without the crossarm. See Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 13-15.

107Senate Park Commission Report, 47.

108The engineer's report, issued in 1931, stated that the design proposed by the Senate Park Commission Report for the Monument Gardens "showed heavy loading over an area where loading should be kept to a minimum; and excavation where, if anything, fill seemed to be required to increase stability." The report recommended abandoning the original plan. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 176-77 and Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 34.

109McKim's domed pantheon would eventually become the Jefferson Memorial. Its present site was authorized in 1937, while designs for the structure were revised after the death of its designer, John Russell Pope that same year. William T. Partridge had helped to advise on the siting of the Jefferson Memorial by serving on a special commission set up by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1935 to study the proposed locations for the memorial. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 173.

110Partridge's caustic critic remains unidentified but was most likely the Harvard-trained landscape architect and town planner, Elbert Peets (1886-1968). His most famous work, The American Vitruvius: An Architect's Handbook of Civic Art was published in 1922 in collaboration with the German urban planner Werner Hegemann (1881-1936) and included a critique of L'Enfant's plan for Washington, D.C., and its later interpretation by the Senate Park Commission. Peets was most disturbed by the 1902 plan's separation of the new monumental central core from the rest of the city. In 1927 Peets published three articles in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects tracing the roots and development of L'Enfant's plan for Washington, D.C. This was followed by scathing reviews of the new Federal Triangle designs and completion of the Mall as a regularized landscaped area during the 1930s. Peets served as a member of the Commission of Fine Arts from 1950 to 1954 and was also a planning consultant for the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. For a selection of his essays on Washington, D.C., see Paul D. Spreiregen, ed. On the Art of Designing Cities: Selected Essays of Elbert Peets (Cambridge, Mass.: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1968).

111The Senate Park Commission Report states, "Buildings of a semi-public character may be located south of the present Corcaran Art Gallery fronting on the White Lot [the Ellipse] and extending to the park limits." Plans called for four buildings, two smaller structures fronting Eighteenth Street ranged around a larger central structure, with a fourth building fronting B Street (Constitution Avenue). See Senate Park Commission Report, 29.

112The National Academy of Sciences building designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924) was completed in 1924. On the Northwest Rectangle, see Frederick Gutheim, Worthy of the Nation: The History of Planning for the National Capital (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977), 203-5. (Reprint 1989)

113Senate Park Commission Report, 69-71.

114The winners of the 1910 competition for the Justice, Commerce and Labor, and State Department buildings facing the east side of the White House grounds were Donn Barber (1871-1925), Arnold W. Brunner (1857-1925), and the firm of York & Sawyer. Plans for the three structures were approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, but appropriations to construct them were never made and the plans were deferred. See Reps, Monumental Washington, 167, 169, and Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 53.

115See U.S. Public Buildings Commission, Public Buildings in the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1918), 15-43. Thomas Staples Martin (1847-1919), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, headed the special committee established in July 1916 to investigate and ascertain what public buildings would be needed in the District of Columbia for future federal expansion. Included in the document is a December 1917 letter from Charles Moore and the Commission of Fine Arts, outlining appropriate locations for new government buildings, based on the Senate Park Commission recommendations. See Charles Moore, "Letter from the National Commission of Fine Arts," in Public Buildings in the District of Columbia, 45-65.

116The Interior Department building (occupied today by the General Services Administration) was designed in 1915-1917 by Charles Butler from the Office of the Supervising Architect.

117The Municipal Building, today's District Building, was constructed by the Philadelphia firm of Cope and Stewardson between 1904 and 1908.

118See Moore, "Letter from the National Commission of Fine Arts" in Public Buildings in the District of Columbia, 53. Moore noted of the eclectic Romanesque-revival, towered Post Office Building, "The present Post Office Building Department was designed at the time when American architecture was in a transition state, before the necessity for an adequate amount of light and air was sufficiently recognized even by Government builders. The style of architecture adapted had its brief day of novelty and popularity; then it retired because of its failure to fulfill modern building requirements. The Government is fortunate in having but one such example among its public buildings."

119See Public Buildings in the District of Columbia, 63.

120U.S. Public Buildings Commission, Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1922).

121The Treasury Department Annex was designed by Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) in 1917-1918.

122In 1925 Congress approved a public buildings bill authorizing $50 million for the construction of government offices.

123The old Arlington Hotel was replaced by an office building in 1917, which was then occupied by the federal government. The Hay-Adams Hotel was constructed in 1927.

124The Senate Park Commission Report advocated a partial in-fill of the Tidal Basin to create the proposed Washington Common, the southern component of the cross axis with the Mall centered on the Washington Monument. Partridge's lamentation that the Jefferson Memorial was not a strong enough planning element, in and of itself, was echoed by John Reps, who noted in 1960: "The unification of this southern part of the cross-axis with the rest of the great central composition was to be accomplished by the Washington Monument terrace gardens. Here is the one element of the Park Commission plans which has defied solution to the present day and which, until completed in some satisfactory manner, interferes with the appreciation and understanding of the entire design of the Mall system." See Reps, Monumental Washington, 176.

125See note 42.

126Senate Park Commission Report, 47. Partridge's quote is not quite correct. It should read: "climb the slope, and, spreading themselves to right and left..."

127U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Twelfth Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1936), 15.

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Last Modified: March 20, 2009