The US Capitol Building on a spectacular fall day. Another photo of the US Capitol Building on a sunny day in September. Pierre L'Enfant chose Jenkins Hill for the site of the structure, connecting it via a wide boulevard to the Presidential Mansion. Jefferson suggested that it be called the Capitol rather than the Congress House, from the Capitoline Hill in Rome, which was home to the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Jefferson also initiated a design competition for these structures in 1792. A late entry actually won the prize, by William Thornton. His structure was grand but simple, inspired by the east front of the Louvre and the Pantheon in Paris. His design for the Capitol building was officially accepted in 1793. Stone was quarried at nearby Wigginton Island and along the Aquia Creek in Virginia. On September 18, 1793, George Washington and eight other Freemasons laid the cornerstone, which was created by a silversmith named Caleb Bentley. Construction on the building was not completed until 1811 but both houses met in temporary structures in November, 1811. The structure was partially burned, however, during the War of 1812 (actually on August 24, 1814), but reconstruction began the following year. Both wings were completed in 1819, and an interior rotunda was also added. Less than 50 years later, however, the number of legislators necessitated new additions to the structure. The eventual product was more than double the length of the original, and in 1855 the original dome was demolished and replaced with the cast-iron one seen today. There have been many alterations over the course of its two centuries, but it remains one of the most iconic and most recognizable structures in the US.
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