Ah Washington DC, a place where millions of people each year visit but miss out on what might be one of the forgotten gems of America, The National Arboretum. The Arboretum was founded in 1927 and is 446 acres of open space that should delight anyone who wants to get away in such a large and busy city like DC. However, even though it’s almost 100 years old, the amount of people who visit or even know about it is shockingly low. On a recent trip, when asked by friends where I was after posting pictures online, I was met with lots of questions about what it was and how I found it. How can a free place like this go so unnoticed by the general public? Maybe it just does not have the same shine that the Lincoln Monument has or the draw of the White House.
Among all the great plants and flowers that you can see, it is a non-natural item that is the real star of the arboretum, The National Capitol Columns. The stick out among all the nature is a fairly open space, rising from atop of a small hill, they give you the feeling that you left the Us and landed in Rome. And what a sight they are.
The 22 Corinthian columns were part of the US Capitol building from 1828 to 1958. For 130 years they were part of the Capitol building and witnessed history as not only Washington changed but so did the country.
Now I don’t want you to think that these were columns that we took from an ancient site, instead, they were made in the US in Virginia. They were part of the east portico of the capital, which in case you do not know what that is, is a porch that leads to an entrance and has some kind of roof over it. So if they were part of our capital, how did they end up in a meadow? Well in 1958 the capital underwent a correction to the building. You see, when the capital was originally built, the dome ended up been bigger than it had been planned and it all looked just odd. So the columns were removed and everything was corrected. Now there were originally 24 columns but two were damaged and could not be used because they are cracked in half.
In the 1980s a push to save them was started and this is how they ended up in their final resting place. Completed in 1990, it is a sight that is amazing to see with your own eyes.