Capitol Crypt


The white stone compass star in the center marks where the city’s four quadrants meet. 

Yes, you read this correctly.  There is a place in the U.S. Capitol called the Crypt. 

For a long time the term has referenced the space below the main floor of a church or a chamber in a mausoleum.  We often think of a crypt as a place for burial, right?

Why the capitol then?  It is something different. The Crypt contains 40 smooth Doric columns of sandstone, which support the arches holding up the floor of the Rotunda,  the large, domed, circular room located in the center of the Capitol on the second floor. 

The columns are modeled on the Temple of Poseidon, which were the shortest and the strongest columns that survive from classical Greece.

The sandstone floor hosts hundreds of people visiting every day from around the world.  The white stone compass star in the center marks where the city’s four quadrants meet. 

Sandstone used in the U.S. Capitol

Around the perimeter are statues of prominent individuals from the nation’s original 13 colonies.  Display cases present exhibits and historic objects.

The Crypt was associated with a proposed interment even before it was built. After the death of President George Washington in 1799, Congress resolved to honor him in the Capitol.

A chamber for the remains of the first president and his wife was added to the plans for the center section of the building and constructed two stories below the Rotunda. Directly above the tomb, where the center of the Crypt is located, was to be placed a marble statue of Washington.

A 10-foot circular opening was left in the center of the Rotunda floor so that visitors could view it from above. However, Washington’s grave remained at Mount Vernon in accordance with his wishes, and no statue of him was ever placed in the Crypt.

Because the 10-foot opening allowed persistent drafts and dampness into the Rotunda, it was sealed in 1828.  https://www.aoc.gov/blog/how-crypt-got-its-name

George Washington truly represented our nation and its values well.  He didn’t want to become a king but simply wanted to return to his civilian life after his term was over so others could be elected president. 

Maybe our political leaders should revisit the ideals of President Washington in providing selfless service for the people. 

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron

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