Friday, July 25, 2008
Du Pont Circle
I'm pulling from the archives for today's post as I didn't make it out for a walk yesterday evening. I did, however, manage to clear another third of the grass and weeds from my tiny backyard in preparation for laying brick pavers, so I'm happy about that.
The picture above is probably the most photographed fountain in Washington, D.C., that isn't on the National Mall. This is the fountain at Du Pont Circle. It is the center for three points in this city: a park, a traffic circle, and a historic neighborhood with a vibrant, urban life. Named for Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont, who served as a naval officer during the Civil War, Du Pont was the nephew of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the founder of E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company. Today, Du Pont is one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world.
S.F. Du Pont's family was closely connect to Thomas Jefferson, which helped secure Du Pont a an appointed as a midshipman by President James Madison in 1815. Du Pont served tours in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, China, California, and Hawai'i before being called up to command the USS Cyane during the Mexican-American War in 1846. In 1862, as Du Pont was preparing to retire, he was called to service in the Union Navy where he served until 1865. On June 23, 1865, he died in Philadelphia. He is buried in the private, closed Du Pont family cemetery in Greenville, Delaware.
In 1882, Congress decided to recognized Du Pont with a bronze statue by sculpture Launt Thompson in what was then called Pacific Circle. That original statue is no longer part of Du Pont Circle, having been appropriated by the Du Pont family in 1920 and moved to Wilmington, Delaware. This fountain replaced it in 1921 and was created by Daniel Chester French.
To see other treatments of this fountain, visit Standing Room Only.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 07/08