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TITLE: A Capitol Built of Stone

Today, the U.S. Capitol building includes different kinds of building stones from many places. But the original construction was with sandstone, transported by water from Virginia’s Aquia Creek quarry.

[Photo: Baluster] This weathered baluster once adorned the Capitol’s East Front. Even layers of white paint couldn’t keep parts of its surface from weathering away in layers, like those of an onion.

These two carved brackets were nearly identical when installed in the 1790s. Over the next 160 years, many layers of paint were applied to protect [Photo: Baluster] the easily weathered sandstone. The one with more paint retains more of the original detail.

[Photo: U.S. Capitol]

As late as 1860, building stones could be hauled up the Washington City Canal to the very steps of the Capitol building.

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits