Jefferson Memorial

Part of DC's monumental core, the Jefferson Memorial is one of the city's most recognizable structures.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, designed after the Pantheon of Rome, is significant as America's foremost memorial to its third president, as an original adaptation of Neoclassical architecture, and as a key landmark in DC's monumental core, installed in accordance with the McMillan Commission plan of 1901. One of Washington's largest and most famous memorials, this structure serves as the southern anchor of the city's monumental plan, the other elements of which include the Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and White House.

The Jefferson Memorial was built to commemorate Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), architect and principal author of the Declaration of the United States, esteemed as an advocate for national independence and personal spiritual freedom. The memorial built in his honor, with the classical serenity of its architecture reflected in the Tidal Basin and framed by ornamental Japanese cherry trees remains one of the most familiar and popular images of the nations capital.

The Jefferson Memorial was originally designed by John Russell Pope and was later modified by his successor, the architectural firm of Otto R. Eggers and David P. Higgins. The edifice is modeled after the Roman Pantheon, a classical structure especially pleasing to Jefferson, which influenced his two most famous buildings, Monticello and the University of Virginia Rotunda.

In 1934 Congress created the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission (TJMC). Its chairman was New York Representative Hon. John J. Boylan, who had offered the resolution establishing the Commission. That same year the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) was considering possible sites for the monument. Construction took place between 1939 and 1943, when President Roosevelt dedicated the memorial on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth, although the memorial remained incomplete until the installation of Rudulph Evans' finished bronze statue of Jefferson in 1947. In addition to the sculpture and architecture, the memorial site also features landscape design by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

DC Inventory: March 7, 1968
National Register: October 15, 1966 (documented May 9, 1981)

Images

Map

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is located in West Potomac Park. It is bordered on the east and south by the approach to the George Mason (14th Street) Bridge and on the north and west by the Tidal Basin. It lies on the approximate axis of Maryland Avenue, directly south of the White House and due east of Arlington House in Virginia.