Did You Know: The Lincoln Memorial Has a Basement

We were unaware. This is pretty cool, and it would be so cool to check it out. Have any GoDCers been lucky enough to visit the basement of the Lincoln Memorial?

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Basement below north terrace, looking west. 15 July 1992. - Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Basement below north terrace, looking west. 15 July 1992. – Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

Source: Library of Congress

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Basement below east terraces. 3 June 1991. - Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Basement below east terraces. 3 June 1991. – Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

Source: Library of Congress

- click image for more -
Basement below east terraces. 3 June 1991. - Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC
Basement below east terraces. 3 June 1991. – Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC

Source: Library of Congress

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  • Lori Cohen

    Yes, I have seen the Lincoln Memorial basement. Many years ago, the National Park Service gave tours of it in the cooler months. I remember the stalactites shown in the photos, which were formed by rainwater as it seeped down from the marble steps. The tour also highlighted graffiti left by the workers who built the memorial.

  • Why does it have a basement is my question.

    • Tom

      It’s a man cave for watching sports 🙂

  • Sam Parsons

    Last time down there was in 50’s. Understand asbestos was reason they stopped tours

  • Bob Sparks

    LAST PHOTO OF LINCOLN

    1903 I believe

  • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley

    This photo – in the video presented below – is FAKE.
    This may be a ‘dead person’ but it is NOT Abraham Lincoln. The Sec. of War – who took charge of many aspects of Lincoln’s funeral details, had the President’s face shaven clean of his famous beard. This person is shown WITH a beard. The story of the photograph is FALSE too.
    Only one picture of Lincoln-in-his-coffin exists.
    When the image was shown to the Sect., he became angry and cast it into his desk drawer. He refused to return it and demanded copies be destroyed. Only AFTER his own demise was the photograph discovered. (Today, most of the design for the Lincoln-laying-in-state presentation (at the Lincoln Library) in Spfd, Ill. was inspired from that single photo.)
    A group tried to steal Lincoln’s body for a ransom. When they were caught and the remains were safe, the coffin was opened to assure that the corpse was truly the late-16th-President. His preservation was good and there was a slight greenish mold on his white-gloved hands. When Lincoln was reburied, cement was poured over the coffin, preventing it from ever being stolen or even opened again.
    At death, Lincoln was just 56 years old…
    (There is a wonderful story about the Lincoln statue ‘upstairs’ in the Lincoln Memorial. I’ll save it for next time…)

  • Sheboygan Schnoid

    I took a tour of the “basement” of the Lincoln Memorial back in the 1980s. One of the notable things were the stalactites “growing” from the ceiling as a result of water seepage through the limestone. Also, in some parts of the “basement”, charcoal drawings that the construction workers had made were extant. It’s an interesting tour, if the NPS is still giving it.

    • Brenda Knepper

      I was down there in the mid-80s with a small group too. This is what I recall — the stalactites and drawings. Very cool to see.

  • Rienzi

    I was down there in 1967 on a Senior Class Trip. When I tried to take a school class there in 2002, I was told you could not get there anymore.

  • artful dodger

    We took a tour of the Lincoln Memorial basement in 1979 or 1980. Like others here, I found the drawings and the limestone stalactites memorable. In addition, there were a few buckets and hand tools scattered about as if the workers had just left that day. At one point in the tour, the guide turned off the lights (bare bulbs hanging above us) and invited everyone to experience the absolute darkness and to note the absence of sound. I was carrying my 2 – 3 year old son at the time. He had fallen asleep and managed to penetrate the quiet (and crack up the people on the tour) with his gentle snoring.