Bathtubs In The US Capitol
Two days ago, 99invisible posted a show, The Bathtubs or the Boiler Room . It seems as though an NPR reporter likes to go places she is not supposed to be in. In the basement of the US Capitol, she found a bathtub, carved out of a chunk of Italian marble.
“The bathtubs were installed around 1860 during the expansion of the Capitol. DC is known for its swampy summers, and legend has it that senators could be banished from the chamber if they were too smelly. But lawmakers—like most Americans at the time—didn’t have indoor plumbing at home. They needed a place where they could wash up. So, the Architect of the Capitol ordered six marble bath tubs, each three by seven feet and carved by hand in Italy, to be installed in the Capitol basement—three on the House side, three on the senate.”
The tubs were imported from Italy, and sent to the port of Baltimore. They arrived just in time for the War Between The States. They were quite a luxurious item. Today, they are forgotten, surrounded by HVAC machines, with one covered with plywood and file cabinets.
Pictures are from The Library of Congress.