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Alice May Parker died in 1861 at age 12 of typhoid fever. At Congressional Cemetery, a praying angel the size of a child prays over her grave. Nearby is a small lamb for infant John Walker Maury and a cherub named Florence.
Water, that is.
The hexagonal red brick building on the west lawn of the Senate side has a drinking fountain for more than 13 decades. There’s even seating for 22.
Frederick Law Olmsted created arched entranceways, small windows, carvings and lots of ornate artistry with even a basket-weave exterior. The interior stone seats are underneath red Spanish mission tile for shade. The focus is a small grotto where water cascades over rocks, though there are also three drinking fountains. The water from a spring is fine, having tried it many times without a problem.
The original lies on a hilltop on the Glenkiln Farm Estate in Scotland where a shepherd once oversaw his flock.
British sculptor Henry Moore made the 11-foot tall bronze cross with a small crosspiece near the top and realized it looked like a Celtic cross. It wasn’t intentional, but it sure comes across that way.
Sir William Keswick collected artwork of Moore along with Auguste Rodin and Jacon Einstein while owning Glenkiln from 1951-76. It was the world’s first sculpture collection in a landscape setting.
This version lies by the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden on 7th and Jefferson Dr.
On the edge of Seward Square is a statue of a Victorian woman looking at the grassy area. Turns out it’s a long story and a good one.
William Seward was Secretary of State who not only bought Alaska for two cents an acre, but also badly injured by John Wilkes Booth’s associates while the actor killed President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The park along Pennsylvania Ave. SE between Fourth and Sixth Sts. and North Carolina Ave. honoring Seward is just a plain green space.
But if you look in the corner lot of Sixth and North Carolina, you’ll see a statue of a woman looking over at Seward Square.
Olive F. Risley was a female companion of Seward’s over his final years. But before your tongue starts wagging over a scandal, Seward beat the gossips by adopting the woman 40 years his junior. Risley was a friend of Seward’s late wife and daughter. Seward needed a woman in his life to attend to his daily affairs and Olive (now Seward) joined him on an 1870-71 trip to Asia, Middle East and Europe.
After Seward’s 1872 death, Risley finished the former’s book “Travels Around the World” that became a best seller. She would later form the Literary Society of Washington while becoming a member of the Washington Society, American Red Cross and Daughters of the American Revolution. Risley also wrote “Around the World Stories” based on her travels with Seward. She died in 1908.
Deciding the park needed a statue, sculptor John Cavanaugh opted to honor Risley instead of Seward. Without a photo of her in 1971, Risley opted for what he envisioned a Victorian lady like Risley would look like. Amazingly, a photo of Risley, found after Cavanaugh’s death in 1985, shows the statue bears a striking resemblance.
The statue is made of lead over burlap. Ironically, Cavanaugh’s death of cancer is attributed to working with lead.
It’s not just the statue that catches my eye, but the background. At the proper angle, they combine for a commanding presence.
Martin Luther and the Luther Place Memorial Church in the background at Thomas Circle are a perfect partnership of what the statue means. The Lutheran religion comes from Luther, a 16th century friar who felt stricter adherence to the scriptures was needed. The Catholic church excommunicated him, but the Diet of Worms trial saw his fellow Germans refuse to condemn him.
Luther spent one year translating the New Testament and a decade reproducing the entire Bible in German when it was previously available only in Greek and Latin. He led the German Reformation movement.
The bronze statue was erected in 1884; a copy of one in Worms, Germany that was later badly damaged during World War II. The 11 ½-foot statue shows Luther looking to the heavens while holding the Bible.
I’ve walked by this monument often over the past 30 years because my wife works nearby. And I knew what it was and even seen it in the spring with the red flowers filling the dirt area in the photo above.
But I was watching actor Lee Marvin in “The Big Red One” movie the other night and suddenly it all clicked. Oh yeah, the 1980 movie is named after the unit that has the marker by the White House.
Hey, my mom says I’m not slow, I’m special. Anyway, funny how things click.
The First Division Monument was created by Daniel Chester French, who sculpted Lincoln’s statue in the Lincoln Memorial. It honors soldiers of the First Division who died during World War I. The 80-foot pink marble column was carved from a Massachusetts quarry and is one of the longest pieces ever mined in the U.S.
Atop the column is a 15-foot bronze Victory with wings whose left hand blesses those who died. At the bottom are the names of those from the First Division who died in World War I and then later in World War II.
The monument was dedicated in 1924 by President Calvin Coolidge.
A leader in the Liberal Revolution of 1895, “Viejo Luchador” (Old Warrior) created national unity, secured its borders and brought new transportation and communication systems to the Central American country.
Unfortunately, Alfaro was eventually forced from office and exiled to Panama. After attempting another coup, he was jailed. A mob later dragged Alfaro from jail through the streets until dead.
The bronze bust is part of the Organization of American States outdoor sculptures at Constitution Ave. and 18th St. N.W.