The United States Supreme Court Building does not only house the highest court in the land, but a breathtaking neo-classical structure located on the block adjacent to where the United States Capitol is situated.
When Washington DC was designated as the capital of the United States in 1970, there was no existing structure to house the members of the Supreme Court, so for more than 140 years, the high court took office in the US Capitol Building. The Supreme Court was then found in the basement of the capitol then moved to several rooms in the building.
In 1929, then Chief Justice William Howard put forward the idea of creating a headquarters for the sole use of the Supreme Court. The government tapped into the expertise of master architect Cass Gilbert to design the Supreme Court Building. Cass Gilbert rose to popularity because of his magnificent work on the Woolworth Building ? one of the most famous skyscrapers in New York City?s skyline. The Great Depression did not hinder the creation of the remarkable structure. Its cornerstone was put in place in 1932 and the entire building was finished three years later with total cost of just below 10 million dollars.
Often referred to as the Temple of Justice, Cass obviously patterned the design of the United States Supreme Court Building to the famous global wonder Parthenon in Greece. One cannot help but see the similarities in the massive columns that dominate its fa?ade. The building has four stories with a total height of 92 feet. It is located on the back end of the lot where it stands and 53 grand and expertly crafted marble steps lead to the structures breathtaking front entrance. A couple of marble blocks can be found at both ends of the stairway where two statues sculpted by James Fraser stand. One is a male character depicting the ?Guardian of Law? and the other one is a female character who represents the spirit of equality and is dubbed as the ?Contemplation of Justice.?
The fa?ade of the US Supreme Court Building is cladded with marble sourced from Vermont while parts of the building?s exterior that are not visible to the public are cladded with Georgian marble. The fa?ade which directly faces the US Capitol has the carving ?Equal Justice Under Law? while the eastern outside exterior wall has the inscription ?Justice, Guardian of Liberty.?
The interior of the US Supreme Court Building is just as grandiose as its exterior with walls lined with marble quarried from Alabama. The courtroom where justices converge is even more opulent with columns fashioned from the finest Italian marble sourced from Sienna. Hearsay has it that Cass Gilbert wrote to the Italian tyrant Mussolini himself to secure the best quality Italian marble. There are also several statues within the building. The courtrooms feature statutes of ancient lawgivers such as Solomon and middle ages lawgivers such as Charlemagne and Muhammad. The Great Hall on the other hand is adorned with by sculptures of former US Chief Justices.
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