From the Re-envisioning Washington D.C. series… Ben Franklin on the Move. Archival photo source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540. Call# LC-F81- 34200 [P&P]
“Benjamin Franklin on the Move”
Sometimes statues get restless in Washington D.C. They just seem to get up and wander off to different locations in the middle of the night. Well, not really, but this is the first in a series on famous Capital City statues or monuments that have relocated.
In 1889, Stilson Hutchins, an avid Democrat and founder of the Washington Post, commissioned a statue of Benjamin Franklin to stand at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th street to overlook the offices of his newspaper. Ben Franklin himself had been a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia. The 8′ tall Carrara marble statue and its 11′ tall granite pedestal were completed within the year by sculptor Jacques Jouvenal, designer Ernst Plassman, and architect J.F. Manning.
The archival photo portion above was taken January 17, 1925 and features Mrs. Anthony Wayne Cook, then President General of the D.A.R. The event was to commemorate the 219th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin.
In 1965, Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and White House was declared a national historic site. In 1972 Congress created the Pennsylvania Development Corporation.* The statue would be moved 10 years later in 1982 as part of the design plan for the area to its current site at the southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 12th Street NW. The new location is just outside the Old Post Office Pavilion which is entirely appropriate since Benjamin Franklin is also regarded as the “Father of the Postal Service.”
In 2012 Donald Trump (an avid Republican) and his daughter Ivanka Trump recently signed a 60 year lease for the Old Post Office Pavilion with plans to turn it into a luxury hotel. The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. will feature 250 rooms, 3 restaurants and a spa. TrumpHotelCollection.com also mentions the location will feature a curated museum and exhibition gallery. The lease reportedly stipulates that the existing tower with a public observation deck will remain open. It offers breathtaking 360 degree views of the Nation’s Capital. At the time of this post no specific details were available about the fate of the Benjamin Franklin Statue outside which appears to be in desperate need of a makeover.
Sources / Learn More
- Mrs. Anthony Wayne Cook
- National Parks Service record
- Stilson Hutchins
- Trump Hotel Collection
- *You Can’t Tear it Down: the Originas of the D.C. Historic Preservation Act – Georgetown Law
- Wikipedia: Old Post Office Pavilion