It’s hard to believe that this is what the Washington Monument looked like for over 20 years but around 1856 construction on the Monument effectively stopped and didn’t resume until 1879; this photo was taken in 1860. The cornerstone was laid in 1848 and the capstone in 1884. Why did construction stop? The simple answer is that the money ran out. The more complicated answer is that the Know Nothing party took control of the project from the Washington National Monument Society (WNMS) and couldn’t keep the project going. When they turned control back to the WNMS, the Civil War started and that delayed construction. Congress didn’t appropriate more money for construction until 1876. After removing the colonnade from the design construction resumed in 1879, some three years later.
Robert Mills, who designed the Treasury Department building and the Penn Quarter’s very own U.S. Patent Office building (now the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum), is the architect of the Washington Monument.
Photo Credit: Shorpy, The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog