Know Your D.C. Stone (clip and save)

Just in case there’s another earthquake or similar event in Our Nation’s Capital, here’s a handy reference for writers/TV reporters/bloggers/Tweeters to at least get the general idea about Washington’s varied use of stone, so we don’t hear about an unsteady marble facade somewhere that’s really limestone. Or sandstone. Or something that’s just not marble.

The final word on these comes, for the most part, from the notes of James V. “Jim” O’Connor (1944-1999), a geology instructor and de-facto geologist of the District of Columbia. He also, perhaps, offered the simplest definition of our industry: “Stone is rock that you pay money for.”

Here’s what’s covering the famous facades of Washington – and, in a few instances, the details on some interior stone.

White House: Aquia Creek sandstone (Virginia), painted white.

U.S. Supreme Court: Vermont marble facade, Italian marble columns. (Interior marble from Alabama.)

U.S. Capitol: Aquia Creek sandstone (Virginia), Lee marble (Massachusetts), White Cherokee marble (Georgia). (There’s also a real mash-up of various stones used for different parts of the interior and some exterior columns.)

Lincoln Memorial: Yule marble (Colorado). (Statue is Cherokee marble from Georgia; interior is mix of Tennessee marble, Indiana limestone, Massachusetts granite.)

Washington Monument: Marble  from Lee (Massachusetts) and combination Cockeysville/Texas quarries (Maryland).  (Bluestone gneiss used in structure.)

Thomas Jefferson Memorial: Imperial Danby marble (Vermont). (Georgia marble interior walls, Tennessee marble floor, Indiana limestone dome liner, Minnesota granite statuary plinth.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: Carnelian granite (South Dakota), Academy Black granite (California).

Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Black granite/gabbro (Bangalore, India)

Washington National Cathedral: Limestone (Indiana)

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: Marble (Carrara, Italy; 3,700 tons came as a gift from the Italian government.)

Russell Senate Office Building: Marble and limestone facing; granite base.

Dirksen Senate Office Building: Marble

Hart Senate Office Building: Marble

Cannon House Office Building: Marble and limestone facing; granite base.

Longworth House Office Building: Marble facing and columns, granite base.

Rayburn House Office Building: White Cherokee (Georgia) and Vermont marble facade, pink granite base (New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas).

Pentagon: Limestone (Indiana)

Executive Office Building: Granite (Massachusetts, Maine, Virginia)

Federal Reserve Building: Marble facade (Georgia); granite base (Massachusetts).

Compiled, for the most part, from “The Jim O’Connor Memorial Field Trip.” (

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