Tyler Tate, president of Lewis Contractors, and Brian Washburn, project manager, said the restoration calls for various skilled craftsman, including those who specialize in the ancient technique of Roman cement, used in the monument's museum area, which wraps around its base.

The trick is to find qualified craftsmen to replicate the original work while accommodating modern necessities such as lighting. They need stone restoration masons rather than regular masons, and wrought-iron specialists rather than metal shop workers, he said.

"There is always a great deal of craft in historic restoration, and when you are approaching a historic restoration project, you approach it with an understanding that your experience and your expertise are going to be brought to bear," Tate said. "No two restoration projects are the same."

Stephanie Guinosso studied a pile of papers near the monument on a recent day to prepare for an exam at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. She lived in Mount Vernon before moving to California to finish her dissertation but never had much time to enjoy it.

"I have this exam, and it feels like the most peaceful place in the city," Guinosso said. "Last night, I was walking through with the monument against the clouds and the sunset — it's truly beautiful.

"It's nice to celebrate the beauty and the history and that's what this space does."

Baltimore Sun research librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this article.



Washington Monument trivia

Construction: The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1815 and construction continued until Nov. 25, 1829, when the final portion of the statue of George Washington was placed atop the column.

Standing tall: The statue that depicts Washington resigning his commission in Annapolis was hoisted into place using a system of pulleys, levers and braces designed by a Navy captain. The column was originally to be topped with Washington, dressed as a Roman warrior, riding in a chariot drawn by four horses.

By the numbers: The monument stands 178 feet tall, including the 161/2-foot-high, 16-ton statue of Washington. The exterior is made up of more than 3,800 stones, including marble from two Baltimore County quarries. Inside, the walls are 4 feet thick.

Cost: A lottery created to fund construction raised $113,000, but the state had to contribute more money to finish the project.

Controversy: On the western base wall, an inscription says Washington's presidency began on March 4, 1789, but he didn't take the oath of office until April 30.

Vandalism: The stairwell on the inside of the pillar was painted pink in 1954 to discourage lipstick graffiti.

Mystery: No one knows where the cornerstone is buried. Among the items inside are a picture of Washington, a copy of his farewell address, local newspapers and coins.

"The Monumental City": President John Quincy Adams coined this nickname for Baltimore in a banquet toast he gave here on Oct. 16, 1827.

Dark side: At least four men and four women have jumped to their death from the monument, including Georgia E. Conaway on Feb. 19, 1938 (newspaper accounts said the 27-year-old had just returned books to the library). Metal grilles, and later windows, were added to block access to the top parapet.

Source: The Baltimore Sun archives, Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, Peale Museum.