National Archives Building

The National Archives Building has very Asiatic lion heads accenting the roof line.  There are also some griffins in the frieze over the Constitution Ave entrance.  My favorite part of this building’s story is that the location was changed twice before construction only to place it at one of the worst locations for an actual archive.  According to the archives web site.  “One of the first issues builders confronted was how to protect the foundation from possible flooding from the Old Tiber Creek bed, which runs under the National Archives Building. Contractors drove 8,575 piles into the unstable soil before constructing a huge concrete bowl as a foundation."



Mayflower Lions

The cold and snow here lately have kept me from wandering around much, but today I came across two plaques/coats-of-arms outside of the Mayflower Hotel.  The first contains the motto "Plus ultra" which is the national motto of Spain and translates as the aspirational but vague, "Further Beyond".  The second appears to be the Bulgarian national motto (in french) "L'Union fait la force" which translates as "Unity Makes Strength".  Belgium uses the same motto and the Haitian coat-of-arms contains the french version as well.  The Mayflower has a long history that seems equal parts grand and salacious.  I wonder if it means the royalty of the respective countries have stayed there.  That could be a future research project.

Bulgarian Coat-of-Arms outside of the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC

Spanish Coat-of-Arms outside of the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC


Southern Railway Building Ground Breaking

I found this interesting item in the application for historic landmark designation for the Southern Building at 15th and K, NW which features dozens of lion heads in the facade.  "Grand Master James T. Gibbs of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia officiated using the same trowel and gavel that George Washington used in the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol."  I wonder if use of that gavel and trowel was typical of most building in DC at the time.  The "lodge" being referred to is the Masonic Lodge.