Category: Charles Bulfinch

Architectural walking tours of Washington,D.C.

Bill Lebovich, former National Park Service historian, architectural historian and photographer, and former adjunct college faculty member, gives weekday and weekend tours of Lafayette Square, Embassy Row, Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, historic downtown and museums, and custom tours.

To schedule a tour, get additional information, reviews, DSCN2867.jpgor ask questions, email me at or call (301) 467-2831.

The beauty of early 19th century architecture

Detail of the cornice of gatehouse designed by Charles BulIMG_4934.jpgfinch, third Architect of the Capitol, in approximately 1827, for the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. This gatehouse and another one by Bulfinch were moved to Constitution Ave, closer to the White House, in the late 19th century.

Bulfinch, considered one of the first professional architects in this country, took drawing courses as a Harvard undergraduate and then traveled through Europe observing architecture.

National Museum of African American History,2016

IMG_4897.jpgFlanked by tower of late 19th century Old Post Office,on Pennsylvania Ave, on the left and the early to mid 19th century US Capitol Building, Capitol Hill, on the right.

How the articulation of monumental architecture changes with the architectural taste at the period of design, the intended symbolism of the building, its location, and the social and political attitudes when the project was conceived.

Charles Bulfinch Gatehouse

The great Boston architect Charles Bulfinch came to Washington to reconstruct the U.S. Capitol. He also designed the gatehouses and posts,all in local soft stone, for the fence on the grounds of the Capitol. Depending on what source is consulted, the gatehouses were constructed in the 1820s,1827,or 1828. So much for government record keeping.

They were removed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874 and placed on the north side of Constitution Ave,NW at 15th and 17th Streets,NW. Again the sources differ as to when they were placed there; one said 1880 and others gave no date.

Yet sometime after they removed and before they were rebuilt near the White House, a waterline indicating the flood of 1877 was marked on the east side of the gate house at 15th St. A later,more substantial flood is also indicated on the facade.

Given that the present site is low ground, the high bloodlines are not surprising,but it would be nice to know where the building stood in 1877.

Or was the so-called 1877 waterline added after the building was moved to grounds of the President’s House? Or are all the dates suspect?Bulfinch gatehouse 1

Bulfinch gatehouse 2
(c)Bill Lebovich,all rights reserved,2014