FEBRUARY 15, 1958
REDDING, Calif.—It appears that Congress is thinking of changing the entrance facade of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
And on this subject a communication has come to me saying that the east front of the building has become during the past 150 years "a symbol of our national growth and spirit not only to Americans but to all peoples as well...Any threat to destroy or impair such an irreplaceable symbol must, therefore, be viewed as a major catastrophe."
Of course, these changes would be made in the interest of providing more space. But there are many other ways of giving our lawmakers this needed space and there are those, interested in beauty and historic interest, who are bitterly opposed to any changes to the east front of the Capitol.
The reasons for the change may sound plausible, but all previous suggestions have been defeated. And though this latest suggestion has gone further than any other, I hope that in the end it will be defeated, too.
The American Institute of Architects has adopted three resolutions opposed to the remodeling of the Capitol, which was designed by three gifted architects—Dr. William Thornton, Benjamin H. Latrobe and Charles Bulfinch—and approved by Presidents Washington and Jefferson
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Society of Architectural Historians have opposed changes to the Capitol building, pointing out that there are other ways of getting the needed space.
The Architectural Forum has estimated that if the present plans are carried out, only a few hearing rooms and additional restaurant space will be provided and that the cost will be $200 a square foot, which "is close to four times the costliest working space ever erected." This, the Forum adds, is "a high price to pay for a project which will ruin the beauty of a national shrine."
I hope many people will write in protest of this proposed desecration of the national Capitol.
I went to the headquarters of Wisdom Magazine Wednesday to receive an award that had been held there for me for some time and met the staff of this interesting publication.
Until I sat in the editor's office I had not realized in what illustrious company I had been placed as one of the magazine's cover personalities, for Professor Will Durant had been chosen to follow me in the series the magazine was publishing. Professor Durant was kind enough to join us on Wednesday, which I felt was a great honor.
To reach the Wisdom Magazine office, you have to climb two flights of stairs. And to sugar-coat this climb, there is a sign at the top reading: "The way to Wisdom is a long, hard climb, but the rewards are eternal."
Later in the afternoon my son James' three children were brought from Pasadena by their mother to see me, and my great-granddaughter, Julianna, also came in with her mother. So several generations had the pleasure of meeting. And James' boys had the exceptionally interesting opportunity of meeting Ted Lawson, who was in the flight with our Air Force group that bombed Hiroshima.
Mr. Lawson brought along his wife and one daughter and obligingly added to the tales of foreign lands which I already had begun to tell.
In the evening I spoke at a dinner, which went on for a long time, and although I was asked to attend a reception later for Otto Frank, father of the little girl who wrote "Ann Frank's Diary," I thought it would keep me out too late, considering the fact that I had to leave early Thursday morning by plane for San Francisco.
I understand that Mr. Frank is arranging for a movie to be made of the play which was adapted from the book and that the money will be used to build a home in Israel for girls of his daughter's age. This must be some consolation to a man who lost so much through the brutality of man against his fellowman.