This form of column may be seen inside and outside of Capitol Hill buildings such as the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, the Russell Senate Office Building, the Cannon House Office Building, and the Library of Congress. The term "Corinthian" is applied to these columns because they are taken from the capital city of Corinthia, Greece. They were imported into America in large numbers for use as capital posts and as interior decorating elements. These columns are also called "giant's necked" or "elephant's feet" due to their massive size compared with those used in other parts of the world.
In addition to being used as column supports, these pieces of sculptured stone were often set into the walls of public rooms as decorative features. They served to divide up these spaces and give them more interest than just plain walls. Sometimes groups of three or four would be used together as a single element on a wall or ceiling.
The earliest examples of these columns in Washington, D.C., date from around 1810. However, since then many changes have been made to the capital's architecture, so exact dates cannot be given for all old photographs.
The original cost of building the Capitol was estimated to be $5 million ($80 million in 2006 dollars). It took seven years to complete, from 1793 to 1800.
This form of column may be seen all over Capitol Hill, including the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court Building, and the façade of the Longworth House Office Building. The Old Senate Chamber, located in the United States Capitol Building, is a two-story space designed after ancient amphitheaters. It is the oldest legislative chamber in the United States and the site of many important events in American history. The Senate Chamber was built in 1824 by Amos Eaton, an architect from Massachusetts. The building was renovated in 1939 by John Russell Pope under the supervision of Louis A. Simoni.
In addition to being used for legislative purposes, the Old Senate Chamber also serves as a venue for public ceremonies, such as the annual State of the Union address. It is here where President Obama will speak this year on January 20th at 1:05 PM. The room has excellent acoustics and can hold up to 100 people. There are no seats assigned, so arrive early if you want to get a good spot.
Other notable examples include the New York Public Library Main Branch, now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and the National Museum of African Art (formerly the black Smithsonian Institution). The main branch of the New York Public Library houses the largest collection of books on Africa outside of Africa.
The East Front central portico and the West Front exhibit instances of a modified Corinthian column style on the Capitol Building's façade. The magnificent, high-ceilinged Hall of Columns on the first floor of the Capitol's House wing gets its name from the 28 fluted, white marble columns that flank the passage. These columns are about 30 feet tall and have a diameter of about 3 feet.
The capitals on these columns were carved by Thomas Jefferson himself and include his autograph and a few lines of poetry. They also depict various scenes from Greek mythology including battles, sacrifices, and dances. There are other examples of Jefferson's artistry throughout the Capitol. For example, the Senate office buildings' entrances feature large sculptures called "Genius of Liberty" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. These statues were originally installed in front of Federal Hall but were moved to their present location in 1935 when Congress approved funds for their restoration.
Also on the first floor is the Hall of Representatives. It too is lined with columns and features a huge painting called "View of Independence Hall" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. This artwork was commissioned by Congress and is an accurate representation of Philadelphia's Independence Hall as it looked in 1876 during its reconstruction after the American Revolution.
On the second floor is the Great Hall of the Senate.