The Monument in the Monument

Earlier this week Beau Dudley, W&L’s director of alumni affairs, received an e-mail from R. K. Barton, of the Class of 1963, forwarding an e-mail from Beth Niccolini, of the Class of 1997,  forwarding an e-mail from her husband–who, while taking the elevator down in the Washington Monument, noticed that one of the 193 memorial stones on the interior walls had been donated by the alumni of Washington College.

The e-mail included the photo below:

So we decided to do a little research on the National Park Service website. And here’s what we discovered. The stone is marble, and it’s 2′ by 4’6″. It’s located 130 feet from the bottom of the monument.

On March 20, 1854, Junius M. Fishburn, a professor of Latin at Washington College, wrote a letter to Elisha Whittlesey, the general agent for the Washington Monument, and stated that the College had procured $100 to purchase the stone. Professor Fishburn instructed that the stone be delivered to the area’s congressman, John Letcher, himself an 1833 alumnus of Washington College, “exercising your own taste and judgement for us in the selection of a block.” Professor Fishburn sent the inscription to Mr. Whittlesey, who wrote back to suggest that “Virginia” be spelled out rather than abbreviated.

And there it is today, for all to see, if they’re paying as close attention as Beth Niccolini’s husband.



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