Rock Creek Park
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The (Original) United States Capitol Ruins
Planning to hike in Rock Creek Park in northwest Washington, D.C.? Just off a horse trail near the horse center and stables, you'll come across a stone graveyard, a hidden piece (or should I say pieces) of architectural beauty. Shrouded in the thickness of the woods for over half a century are sandstone pieces of the original east front portico of the U.S. Capitol Building, which was completed in 1828 after the building suffered extensive fire damage by British forces led by Admiral George Cockburn and Major Gen. Robert Ross during the invasion of Washington on August 24, 1814 (War of 1812). Quarried from Aquia, VA, the source for the same sandstone used in building the White House starting in 1792. These stones have served as the backdrop for Presidential Inaugurations from Andrew Jackson (1829) to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1957) as well as a number of speeches, protests, demonstrations, and rallies before being replaced by marble replicas from 1958-1961. Instead of reusing the pieces, the were placed in this part of Rock Creek per an agreement with then-Architect of the U.S. Capitol J. George Stewart and the National Park Service (NPS). Parking is available at the Horse Center and Stables. Go around the stables to access the trail. More of the original east front (specifically columns) is found on the grounds of the U.S. Arboretum in northeast Washington.
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