This week I had the chance to tour a few of Washington DC’s iconic buildings. What struck me was the fantastic detailing and craftsmanship in buildings built during the country’s infancy. The British burned down the Capitol Building during the war of 1812, and craftsman began immediately to rebuild it. Using strictly human powered hand tools, they built brick arches, groined ceilings and domes and trimmed them out and glazed them with the most meticulous attention to detail. Structures that today would be simply covered in drywall, they covered in hand-made millwork of massive size, carved plaster flowers and plants of intricacy and realism, and handcut glass that was made to fit individual domes and windows. Massive marble and sandstone columns with custom carved capitols and bases reflecting the things of importance to our countrymen from that period add to the gravitas of the structures. Inside the building are sculptures and artwork reflecting master artists from the past and reflect the weight of importance placed on people and events from that time period. Of course, more recent works reflect more recent events and people. Someday, people from a future United States, will marvel at the workmanship and care taken from even these more recent works, and will reflect on those that crafted this crucible of freedom. The permanence of what we build is something I think of often. What will people in the future think about what we’ve built, and what kind of people we were that built what the future will, hopefully, value and embrace. The homes and projects we build are a reflection of ourselves, and the times we live in, and will be a sort of time machine that future generations can look through to see us as if they were looking through a time travel looking glass. I hope they like what we’ve crafted as much as I now admire the work of these long dead and nameless craftsman that painstakingly sweated the details back in 1814-
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