Sights to See
Quoting from "Mosaics of the Washington DC Area," a mosaic tour guide
developed for the SAMA conference by Lynndehn Carpenter, Sylvia Witting and
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
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 www.loc.gov/jefftour
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.
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 www.stmatthewscathedral.org 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
www.saintsophiawashington.org for an online tour.
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
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