Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

October 17, 1997

Library of Congress Marks Official Centenary of the Opening of the Thomas Jefferson Building

Gilded Flame Atop Jefferson Building To Be Illuminated Beginnning November 4, 1997

On Nov. 4, the Library of Congress will observe the centenary of the Nov. 1, 1897, opening of its Thomas Jefferson Building with a series of events.

They include: 10 a.m.: U.S. Postal Service commemorative postal cancellation, with a special postal sub-station in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the public may bring their own envelopes with first class stamps affixed to obtain the official Library of Congress cancellation. Or they may purchase pre-stamped and canceled commemorative envelopes for 32 cents each, which the USPS also will be selling in the Librarys Great Hall all day.

10 a.m.: An exhibition, The Thomas Jefferson Building: Book Palace of the American People, opens in the Great Hall. The exhibition is divided into three sections which include photographs and other illustrations of the new structure; copies of photographs of the Library at work originally exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair; and an eclectic mix of memorabilia (buttonhooks, letter openers, spoons, paperweights etc.) of the building. It will remain on view through April 30, 1998.

5 p.m.: A plaque honoring the key role that Vermont Congressman Justin S. Morrill (1810-1898) played in obtaining the original Library of Congress building for the American public will be unveiled in the Librarys Great Hall. Members of the Vermont congressional delegation are slated to attend the ceremony. Senator Morrill, along with his colleague from Indiana, Senator Daniel W. Voorhees (1827-1897), successfully steered the needed legislation through Congress and consistently supported Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1825-1908) for the 25 years it took to make the building a reality," said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. "Senator Voorhees was honored with a plaque in 1956 and now, as we mark the building's centennial, it is time to acknowledge the work of Senator Morrill." The plaque has been presented by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and its affiliate, the Vermont Center for the Book.

5:45 p.m.: In cooperation with the Architect of the Capitol, the Library will throw a switch to illuminate the flame of the gilded torch of learning that crowns the Jefferson Buildings dome. The flame will continue to be illuminated at night for the first time in the buildings 100-year history. The roof of the Jefferson Building was recently replaced as part of the overall renovation of the building, and a new torch using molds made from the old torch was constructed. The 4-foot torch was remounted on a new pedestal atop the dome in June, and it was gilded with 23-karat gold leaf, square by square, by architectural gilder Lisa DaSilva Cotter in June and July.

Photographers will be able to shoot the illumination of the torch from the balcony of the James Madison Building or from the roof of the John Adams Building (which would provide a view of the dome of the Jefferson Building as well as the dome of the Capitol beyond it). Please call Helen Dalrymple, (202) 707-1940, to let her know your preference so that arrangements can be made in advance of the shoot.

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PR 97-182
ISSN 0731-3527

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