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Catafalque

Two floors below the Rotunda you can see the area intended as George and Martha Washington's tomb. However, they chose burial at their plantation on the Potomac River. For many years the space held President Lincoln's catafalque -- the structure on which his coffin rested at the Rotunda in 1865. The catafalque has been moved to the new Capitol Visitor Center where you can see it displayed in a place of honor.

Benjamin French designed Lincoln's catafalque, which consisted simply of pine boards nailed together and covered with black broadcloth. Over the years the base and platform have been modified to accommodate the remains of dignitaries who lay in state in the Rotunda and nearby locations. The fabric has been replaced but its draping follows the 1865 style.

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