James Cardinal Gibbons

Memorial: James Gibbons (July 23, 1834 – March 24, 1921)
Unveiling: August 14, 1932, 3:30 p.m.
Location: Sixteen Street and Park Road, NW
Sculptor: Leo Lentelli
Cost: No cost to the United States, donated by the Knights of Columbus

The unveiling coincided with the golden jubilee convention of the Knights of Columbus, who gave dedicated the statue and presented it to the United States. Approximately 20,000 members of the Knights of Columbus and other Catholic organizations turned out for the parade and the dedication ceremony.

The unveiling of the statue to Cardinal Gibbons was broadcast on the national radio network. President Hoover addressed the assembly and accepted the statue on behalf of the United States.

Martin H. Carmody, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, presented the memorial, and the Most Rev. John M. McNamara, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore made an address. The unveiling was performed by a grandniece of the late cardinal. There was also a papal delegate at the ceremony, the Most Rev. Peter Fumasoni-Biondi, who delivered the invocation and blessed the ceremony.

James Gibbons was born in Baltimore. And, although he grew up in Ireland, he came back to Maryland for his education. He was ordained a priest in 1861. Gibbons later became an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Richmond from 1872 to 1877, and as ninth Archbishop of Baltimore from 1877 until his death in 1921. Gibbons was elevated to the cardinalate in 1886, the second American to receive that distinction, after John McCloskey.

The idea of a statue to Gibbons originated with Charles W. Darr, the Knights of Columbus State deputy supreme of the District. In 1928, seven years after his death, a joint bill was introduced in the House and Senate by Representative Fred N. Zihlman, of Maryland, and Senator Millard A. Tydings, of Maryland, authorizing the memorial. It was unanimously passed by Congress and approved by President Coolidge on April 23, 1928.

The resolution called for the memorial to be placed at 16th Street and Park Road on Government ground opposite the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. And the memorial was to be funded through contributions from the Knights of Columbus.

Because the Knights of Columbus were paying for the memorial they organized the judging of the initial models. The monument to Cardinal Gibbons was selected from a group of five models submitted by leading sculptors and approved by the Knights of Columbus committee for the memorial and the Fine Arts Commission of the District.

The plan for the memorial called for the Knights of Columbus to contribute all the funds for the statue.


James Gibbons, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gibbons

Catholic Memorial on U.S. Land Proposed, The Washington Post, January 6, 1928, pg. 20

Gibbons Statue Board Chosen, The Washington Post, May 1, 1928, pg. 3

K. of C. to Unveil Statue on Aug. 14: Late James Cardinal Gibbons, The Washington Post, June 6, 1932, pg. 8

Hoover to Accept Cardinal’s Statue, The Washington Post, Jul. 21, 1932, pg. 14

Gibbons’ Work Highly Lauded at Statue Rite, The Washington Post, Aug 15, 1932, pg. 1

Radio Dial Flashes. By ROBERT D. HEINL. The Washington Post, 14 Aug 1932: A2.

Joan of Arc

Statue: Joan of Arc (Jeanne D’Arc, French)
Location: Meridian Hill Park
Sculptor: Paul Dubois, French
Dedication: January 6, 1922
Cost: $0, gift of the Femmes de France of New York

The only equestrian statue of a women in the nation’s Capital, the Joan of Arc statue was given to the United States by a group of women, Society of French Women of New York, and is dedicated to the women of the United States.

Joan of Arc was born in the village of Arc in 1412. When she was 13 she heard the voices of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret telling her to fight for France, which she did, driving the English from Orleans in 1429. In 1429 she was captured by the Burgundians, then tried in a French ecclesiastical court and convicted of heresy. In 1431, they burned her at the stake. She was 19.

The statue portrays her in armor, looking toward the heavens, with her sword held high. The statue, by Paul Dubois (1829-1905), is a replica of the one he erected in front of Rheims Cathedral in 1896.

According to The Washington Post the dedication services ‘were extremely simple.’ The ceremony included ‘a few speeches, the ceremony of unveiling and the national anthems of the United States and France.’

President and Mrs. Harding attended the ceremony, as did Ambassador Jules Jusserand of France. Speeches at the dedication ceremony were given by U.S. Secretary of War Weeks; Mme. Carlo Polifeme, president of the Society of French Women of New York, which gave the statue to the city; and Mrs. George Maynard Minor, president of the National Society of the D.A.R., who accepted the statue on behalf of the women of the United States. Amb. Jusserand also presented a medal from France to Mme. Polifeme for her work in getting the statue erected in Washington, D.C.

Statue of Jeanne D’Arc Unveiled with Simple but Impressive Services, The Washington Post, January 7, 1922

This equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, The Washington Post, 15 Aug 2004

John Witherspoon

Statue: John Witherspoon, born Scotland, February 5, 1722 – died New Jersey, 1794
Location: Connecticut Avenue, 18th Street and N Street, NW (Dupont Circle, south)
Sculptor: William Couper, New York
Dedication: May 20, 1909, 3:30pm
Cost: Public Funds: $4,000 Private Funds:  collected through subscription

The John Witherspoon statue was approved in 1907 and in 1908 Congress appropriated $4,000 for the purchase of land and a pedestal for the statue. The statue was given to the District of Columbia by the Witherspoon Memorial Association. And the committee selected the triangle park at the intersection of Connecticut and 18th and N Streets, NW.

The site of the memorial was considered particularly appropriate because it was opposite the Church of the Covenant, a Presbyterian church, and the Embassy of Great Britain – both organizations have since moved and the buildings have been torn down.

John Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and during his lifetime considered a reformer, statesman, scholar, political activist, confidant of George Washington.

Plans for the Witherspoon statue were started by the Rev. Teunis S. Hamlin, a pastor of the Church of the Covenant, which, in 1908, faced the plot on which the memorial to the clergyman, statesman, and patriot stands.

John Witherspoon was born on February 5, 1722, at Gifford Scotland, graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1742 and served as minister in Scotland from 1745 to 1768. In 1768 he moved to America and accepted an invitation to become president of Princeton College in New Jersey and held that position until his death in September 15, 1794. He taught divinity and served as its president and was also pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton.

Witherspoon was a member of the Constitutional Convention of New Jersey in 1776 as well as a member of the Continental Congress. He advocated and signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. During the Revolutionary War Princeton was closed and Witherspoon helped with various wartime causes and was considered a friend of George Washington’s. After the was Princeton College was reopened and Witherspoon continued to serve as president as well as lecturing. During the last two years of his life he was blind.

The statue shows Witherspoon with a book in his hand, making an address, and is placed on a huge block of granite.

The dedication ceremony took place in the Church of the Covenant.  Presiding over the ceremonies will be former Secretary of State Gen. John W. Foster who was chairman of the Witherspoon Memorial Association. Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps, Vice President Sherman, and Witherspoon descendants numbering almost 200. Also making a presentation was the then President of Princeton University Woodrow Wilson who spoke on the subject of  “The Review of the Life and Service of Witherspoon.”

The inscription on the statue reads:

For my own part, of property I have some, of reputation more. That reputation is staked. That property is pledged on the issue of this contest; and although these gray hairs must soon descend in the sepulcher, I would infinitely rather that they descend thither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country.

For many years following the dedication of the statue every year on February 5 the congregation of the Church of the Covenant held ceremonies at the statue.  The church was torn down in 1966 and the National Presbyterian Church was built as a replacement on Nebraska Avenue near Ward Circle. In 1976 there was a short-lived movement to relocate the statue to the suburbs.


For Witherspoon Statue: House Committee Favors Appropriation for Site, The Washington Post, March 24, 1908

John Witherspoon born in Scotland 195 years ago, The Washington Post, February 5, 1917

Will honor Patriot, Prominent Men to Dedicate Statue of Witherspoon, The Washington Post, May 19, 1909

Memorial to a Signer, Witherspoon State Will be Unveiled in Spring, The Washington Post, Oct 4, 1908

Francis Asbury Statue

Statue: Francis Asbury (August 20, 1745 – March 31, 1816)
Location: 16th Street and Columbia Roads, N.W.
Sculptor: Henry Augustus Lukeman, New York
Cost: Gift to the United States by the Methodist Episcopal church at a cost of about $60,000 (1924)
Dedication: Wednesday, October 5, 1924, 2:30pm

Site approval was made on August 9, 1924. The statue was erected without expense to the United States.

The sculpture was finished in July 1921 and portrays Asbury seated on a horse with saddlebags containing books and articles of clothing.

Francis Asbury (1745-1816) came from England to America in 1771, by appointment of John Wesley, to do missionary work. Asbury became the first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church and was also the developer of American Methodism – the most numerous Protestant church family in America. Asbury lead the American Methodist church for 45 years during which time he travelled extensively.

He traveled over 5,000 miles a year on horseback, was paid $64 per year (about 20 cents a day), and covered an estimated 250,000 miles in his lifetime. He preached daily and three times on Sunday giving at least 500 sermons a year.  Asbury wrote, by his own estimates, 1,000 letters a year, and also wrote in journals, which were published on 1,200 pages.

When he began preaching in America in 1765 “there were an estimated 600 Methodists in the county and only a half dozen preachers. He lived to see an increase to 200,000 members and 700 preachers.” (“He Rode Horseback 250,000 Miles”, The Washington Post, Mar 30, 1930, SM7)