Magdalene’s Eyes Opened

Bronze monument to Charles Mather Ffoulke (1841-1909), his wife, Sarah Cushing (1852-1926), and their children in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. Charles was a merchant, investment banker, and art collector. Titled “Rabboni”, this sculpture of Mary Magdalene emerging from Jesus’ tomb on Easter was designed by Gutzon Borglum in 1909. The epitaph reads:

“THE END OF BIRTH IS DEATH \ THE END OF DEATH IS LIFE AND \ WHERFOR MOURNEST THOU”

Charles Mather Ffoulke (1841-1909)

Moments of Grief

Monument to Samuel H. Kauffmann (1829-1906), owner and publisher of the Washington Evening Star newspaper, in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. Titled “Seven Ages” or “Memory”, this seated bronze figure holding an asphodel wreath was designed by William Ordway Partridge in 1897. The seven bronze panels depict scenes illustrating Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” from As You Like It. A large urn that stood in front of the bench has been removed.

Samuel H. Kauffmann (1829-1906)

D.C. Cherry Blossoms 2020

My wife and I finally made it to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., something on my to-do list since moving to this area over a year ago. Despite fears of Covid-19, official cancellation of the festival, and warnings to stay away from large groups, hundreds of people couldn’t resist the allure of the blossoms.

Tidal Basin Blossoms

A plummeting stock market and fears of pandemic were a stark contrast to this beautiful spring morning and the bright pink cherry blossoms. We did see some visitors wearing masks, but otherwise it was just a typical day.

Leo Longs for Pets

Our corgi, Leo, was upset he couldn’t get any pets from passersby.

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Last Illumination

Monument to Thomas Trueman Gaff (1854-1923) in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. This bronze figure in a hooded robe was sculpted by Jules B. Dechin in Paris, 1922. Gaff’s epitaph reads “EXCEPIT ILLUM MAGNA, ET AETERNA PAX”, which is Latin for “Welcomed by a great and everlasting peace”.

Thomas Trueman Gaff (1854-1923)

A Trip to the Library of Congress

I’ve always loved libraries, from my days as a kid browsing the shelves after school, to being fascinated with my grandpa’s old books, to my college years and beyond, so the Library of Congress was one of the first places I wanted to visit when I moved to this area. What I didn’t realize was how it is just as much a museum as a functional library.

Unfortunately, the library’s oldest collection of books has been devastated by fire several times, first in 1814 and again in 1851. The second fire ruined many of the over 6,000 books Thomas Jefferson personally donated. An ongoing exhibition of Jefferson’s library in the main Thomas Jefferson Building shows 2,000 original volumes, as well as thousands of replacements and indicates which books are still missing. Other exhibits include a display on women’s suffrage, Rosa Parks, and comic book art. You can even see a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

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A Trip to the U.S. Capitol Building

No visit to Washington, DC is complete without seeing the U.S. Capitol Building, which is open to the public and more accommodating to visitors since the addition of a multi-million dollar visitor center in 2008. There are restricted areas, of course, and places you can only go with a congressperson or senator, but you don’t have to have any special connections to see public areas of the building, including the crypt and rotunda.

My mother-in-law was able to score us a tour with her congresswoman’s intern, which was preferable to standing in line. He graciously took us through the tunnels, which features a display of student artwork from all 50 states, and all public areas. Senators and congressmen travel to and from their offices and the Capitol via underground tunnels, so they don’t have to share the street with peasants like us.

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A Trip to the White House

Home to our chief executive, the White House is a treasure-trove of historic artifacts and artwork rivaling the country’s best museums.

I recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the White House in Washington, DC. Its simple neoclassical architecture and humble name hide the beauty within. Inside is a treasure trove of history and art rivaling the best museums in the country. Getting in, of course, is difficult but only requires submitting a request through your Member of Congress. Tours are free and security is tight–I couldn’t even bring my regular camera and had to settle for using my cell phone camera.

The self-guided tour starts in the East Wing, which was built in 1942, and goes past the presidential movie theater and a small gift shop into the ground floor. Visitors are allowed to view but not enter the Vermeil Room, China Room, and Library, before heading upstairs.

On the ground floor, visitors walk through the East Room, which is a large open hall, to the Green, Blue, and Red rooms (all decorated in their respective colors), through the State Dining Room, to the Entrance Hall. The Cross Hall, where the President sometimes holds press conferences or makes announcements, was roped off during our visit.

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Vanished Race

Bronze monument to Frederic A. and Florence Sheffield Boardman Keep in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. Frederick (1858-1911) was a prominent Washington, DC businessman whose wife, Florence (1867-1954), was the sister of Mabel T. Boardman, a founder of the American Red Cross. James Earle Fraser sculpted the male and female figures, which were installed on a base of Stoney Creek granite in 1920.

Frederic A. Boardman (1858-1911)