Skip navigation
Share this page

Home | Exhibits | Publications | Web Resources | Contact Us

Archaeological Investigations National Museum of the American Indian Site Washington, D.C.

Congressional Cemetery

Congressional Cemetery, located at 1801 E Street, S E Washington, D.C. was founded in 1807 by a group of Capitol Hill residents. Five years later, the cemetery was turned over to Christ Episcopal Church. Part of the cemetery was selected for the internment of members of Congress; hence the name Congressional Cemetery.

The handsome "cenotaphs" or monuments to congressmen who died in office from 1807 to 1877 were designed by Benjamin Latrobe. Many of the cenotaphs serve as monuments, not graves, to the congressmen. Less than 80 bodies were interred under them.

Rows of identical cenotaphs

Monuments are reserved for Congressmen.

John Quincy Adams' monument

Tip O'Neill's monument

The cemetery hosts a rich collection of funeral sculpture spans the early 19th century to the present day. It is open seven days a week.

Footpath, DC Jail in the background

A beautiful day.

An interesting headstone

An interesting headstone

In the 1830's Mary Ann Hall built and ran a large brothel in a convenient location near the U.S. Capitol Building. When the provost marshal published a list of Washington's bawdy houses in 1864, Mary Ann Hall's first-class house, with 18 "inmates," employed far more prostitutes than any other brothel in the city. Mary Ann Hall continued to run her high-class operation at its corner into the 1870s. She apparently retired as madam around 1878. In 1883 Mary Ann Hall rented part of her property in Reservation C to the Washington Dispensary, which set up a women's health clinic. The dispensary appears to have lasted only a few years in Reservation C, however, probably due to the death of its landlady, Mary Ann Hall, in 1886.

The mourning woman - Mary Hall's gravestone.

A closer view of Mary Hall's gravestone.

The base of Mary Ann Hall's marker.

Mary Ann Hall's obituary in the Evening Star read "Departed this life, 2 am Friday January 29, 1886, Mary A. Hall, long a resident of Washington. With integrity unquestioned a heart ever open to appeals of distress, a charity that was boundless, she is gone; but her memory will be kept green by many who knew her sterling worth." She was buried in Congressional Cemetery. Her grave, which remains in the cemetery, is marked by a large and dignified marble gravestone that features a female figure mourning over an urn. The adjacent gravestone in the large family plot commemorates her mother and a sister, who both died in the 1860s.

The Hall family plot. Elizabeth Hall's resting place on the left; Mary Hall's on the right.

Notice the WELCOME stone behind Elizabeth Hall's.

The Angel is Elizabeth Hall's gravestone

The base of Elizabeth Hall's marker.

At the entrance is a map of the grounds where visitors may locate the graves of notable persons buried in Congressional Cemetery. These include architects William Thornton and Robert Mills; Choctaw Indian Chief Push-Ma-Ta-Ha; Civil War photographer Matthew Brady; John Philip Sousa, the Marine Corps bandmaster; and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Map at entrance

J. Edgar Hoover's family plot

For more information on Congressional Cemetery please call the cemetery office at 202-543-0539.

Photographs by Mignon Erixon-Stanford, Smithsonian Institution.

Information on Congressional Cemetery from The Outdoor Scupture of Washington, D.C. by James M. Goode, published by Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1974.

[Back to Archaeological Investigations]    

[Return to Architectural History and Historic Preservation]