Lincoln Memorial: Overview

Introduction Credits:
Randolph H. Lytton, Pim van den Assum

Introduction Date:

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The Lincoln Memorial, located in West Potomac Park at the west end of the Mall, was built between 1913 and 1922 by Henry Bacon. Daniel Chester French sculpted the statue of President Lincoln, and the murals were done by Jules Guerin. Restorations and upgrades were done in 1996, 2000 and 2006. By 1911, when Congress got around to erecting a memorial to our 16th president, there were many suggestions for its style. One concept was for a second obelisk to balance the Washington National Monument, and another was for a pyramid, but a Greek temple form was finally chosen.

The temple-like Lincoln Memorial suggests the Athenian Parthenon, without certain classical features. Its entrance is on the east long side and not at one of the short ends. Instead of classical pediments, there is a recessed attic surrounding the top. (Moeller, p. 84) Each of the exterior thirty-six Doric columns represents the states within the Union at the beginning of the Civil War. Inside the ‘sacred’ area is a stature of Abraham Lincoln seated on a “curule” chair with fasces, surrounded by four 60-foot Ionic columns. The Lincoln Memorial has a mixture of Greek and Roman motifs: swags on the attic, palmettes, oak and laurel wreaths, urns on tripods, a Roman-like entrance below with projecting blocks and a Greek-like three-stepped entrance into the ‘temple’ itself

Document List

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. (no date)
Lincoln Memorial is located on the axis of the Capital and the Monument. The Union of the U. S. is expressed in the colonnade surrounding the hall. There are 36 columns, one for each state in existence at the time of Lincoln's death. The statue of Lincoln is in the center of the Memorial, while smaller halls at each side of the central hall contain second Inaugural and Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. (no date)
The Lincoln Memorial, modeled after a classic Greek Temple, is situated on an eminence in Potomac Park on the banks of the Potomac River. It is a monumental marble structure and a worthy and fitting memorial to Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln statue, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. (no date)
No small part of the effect of the Lincoln Memorial on an American is the giant statue of the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln is represented as seated in a flag-draped chair, with his head bent slightly forward as in thought. The figure by Daniel Chester French is 19 feet high and is made of 20 blocks of crystalline Georgia marble perfectly interlocked.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. (no date)
In This Temple As In the Hearts of the People for Whome He Saved the Union the Memory of Abraham Lincoln Is Enshrined Forever