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The Butt–Millet Memorial

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

Washington was built to be admire and visit as one would a permanent exhibit. It doesn’t have at first glance, the cluster of accumulated decadence that make other capitals attractive in a different way. Washington is a maquette in a vitrine, a test-tube metropolis conceived as a living museum.

Other than parks, and museums, the capital of the United States offers more than one-hundred and fifty monuments memorializing historical events, poets, public servants, victims of the Holocaust, soldiers, civil right leaders, and most of the wars fought by this nation in all corners of the world. Washington even has a statue to José Gervacio Artigas, father founder of the tiny, yet precious republic of Uruguay in South American.

The Butt-Millet Memorial. Library of Congress

In fact, there’s no other city in the world where the nation speaks to the visitor about the glories and troubles of the past in words of stone, marble, and bronze like in the District of Columbia.

Some monuments are better known that others, some may hide as much as they reveal. Amongst the least popular sculptures is the The Butt–Millet Memorial Fountain located in President’s Park, just in front of the White House.

The twelve feet high column rising from the bowl of golden-brown Tennessee Marble was commissioned to celebrate the life of Archibald Butt and Francis David Millet, prominent members of the political class in Washington who drawn when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912. Francis Millet, served on the Commission of Fine Arts and took part in the design of the National Mall, Archibald Butt, was a Major in the U.S. Army and a presidential military aide.

The Washington Times. Major Archibald Butt feature on front-page illustration

They were a well-established couple, widely believed to have been romantically involved for decades. In the relief, Millet is represented with the figure of a woman holding a paint brush and palette, while Major Butt is represented by a man in armor and helmet, holding a shield.

The architect who worked with the sculptor to erect this monument was Thomas Hasting; the sculptor, was Daniel Chester French.

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