THF-DC Highlights

Sights to See in DC

Quoting from "Mosaics of the Washington DC Area," a mosaic tour guide developed for the SAMA conference by Lynndehn Carpenter, Sylvia Witting and Dianne Crosby:

Library of Congress/Jefferson Building
1st Street SW and Independence Ave. SW

The Jefferson Building, resembling an ancient temple to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, ranks as one of the most beautiful edifices in the country. It contains a wealth of decorative art, including many splendid mosaics in both glass and stone. Throughout the building you will find Italianate mosaic floors and unpolished marble mosaic corridors and vaulted ceilings.

On the second floor at the top of the grand central staircase there is a larger-than-life mosaic of Minerva by Elihu Vedder. Part of her armor is laid aside, symbolizing peace; on her right is a statue of Victory; at her left, her symbol the owl.

For an online tour go to

Anacostia Metro Station
1101 Howard Road SE

The mosaic installation at the Anacostia Metro Station by Martha Jackson-Jarvis is titled "River Spirits of the Anacostia." Jackson-Jarvis won a national competition by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to design and execute the mosaic, which was completed in the fall of 2004. The 400 foot long glass mosaic wraps around the top four and a half feet of all four sides of the station's entrance. The work combines environmental references to the energy of the river with images of the indigenous plants and life forms that thrive there.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Ave. NE

One of the most noteworthy and inspiring installations of mosaics in Washington DC in the early 20th century, the Shrine employed some of the most famous mosaic artists and companies working in America at the time to recreate the feeling of ancient Romanesque and Byzantine churches. The mosaics in the building vary from ancient to modern and include decorated soaring vaulted ceilings, ornate arches, and windows of alabaster inlaid with geometric designs in gold smalti.

There is also the remarkable underground Crypt Church that reproduces the aura of the Roman catacombs. It is lovingly decorated with unique ceramic tiles by Mary Chase Stratton [Pewabic Pottery], has a stone mosaic floor and contains pictures of holy personages composed in glittering glass mosaics.

Bethesda Place
7700 Wisconsin Ave. NW

This three piece installation by Ned Smyth consists of "Ocean-River-Lake," a 20" by 160" floor terrazzo mosaic; "In the Moment," a 30" by 40" wood, stone and glass wall mural; and an untitled column, a 20" tall courtyard sculpture covered with glass and stone. The exterior floor is designed to bring pedestrians from the street into the plaza and includes sea, river, and lake images with men, animals and sea creatures all sharing these water sources.

Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Ave. NW

Many remarkable mosaics were restored along with the rest of the cathedral in 2003. Visit for an online tour of this famous church where the funeral of President Kennedy was held in November 1963.

The mosaic on the north wall of the Baptistery (among the most spectacular) recalls the description in the Gospel of John, chapter 5, of the angel disturbing the waters of the pool in Bethsaida. The sick, the blind, and the lame gathered at the pool. The first to enter the pool after the disturbance of the waters was cured. Jesus visited this place and cured a lame man, who had not been able to reach the waters. St. John recounts this miracle as a sign of Jesus' power. This mosaic is the work of John de Rosen, who also designed the exterior mosaic above the entrance of the cathedral and the mosaic in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel behind the tabernacle.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
36th St. and Massachusetts Ave. NW

Founded in 1904 by Greek immigrants, Saint Sophia is a large traditional Orthodox Christian cathedral in the Byzantine style. The walls and ceiling of the interior of the church are completely covered in stone and glass mosaics including many depictions of saints and other sacred images. The use of gold mosaic throughout creates a heavenly aura. Visit for an online tour.

AFL-CIO Headquarters
815 16th St. NW

Two free-standing 17 by 51 foot mosaic murals, designed by American muralist Lumen Martin Winter, are located in the lobbies of the AFL-CIO Headquarters. "Labor is Life-Carlyle" in the south lobby was unveiled in 1956 at the dedication of the headquarters by President Eisenhower.

With his right arm the man protects his family while his wife is teaching the fundamentals of work and social living to their son, the next generation. Man's labor as the protector and provider for the family is symbolized throughout the mural. Work on the mosaic was executed by The Ravenna Mosaic Company. The materials are American marble, Italian glass and gold.

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