A Monumental Architectural Ode to the Discoverer of America

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106. [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER]. KELSEY, Albert. Program and Rules of the Second Competition for the Selection of an Architect for the Monumental Lighthouse, which the Nations of the World Will Erect in the Dominican Republic to the Memory of Christopher Columbus; Together with the Report of the International Jury, the Premiated and Many Other Designs Submitted in the First Contest. Prepared by Albert Kelsey, F.A.I.A. Technical Adviser. N.p.: The Pan-American Union, 1930. [1-2] 3-187 [1, blank] pp., 2 folded maps, profusely illustrated with designs and plans for the lighthouse (mostly elevations and site plans), many in color. Folio (35.2 x 24.5 cm), original blue cloth, lettered in gilt on upper cover: The Christopher Columbus Memorial Lighthouse Competition and embossed gold seal of the Union of American Republics. Exceptionally fine and fresh in original glassine wrapper, original box with blue ribbon and illustration of Columbus’ voyage, the three ships, the Mexican calendar stone, all within a border of pre-Columbian glyphs. Box worn and split with some missing pieces of edges of lid (illustration with one minor stain, otherwise fine with no losses). Laid in are a related pamphlet, two pieces of ephemera, and a signed typed letter from the director of the Pan American Union to “My Dear Professor Hackett.” Provenance: Charles Wilson Hackett’s Library. Common enough in institutions, but scarce in commerce.

     First edition in English. Lighthouse Digest, Archives, November 2010:

Although the idea to build a memorial lighthouse honoring Christopher Columbus was first written about as far back as 1852, it was not until 1923 at the Fifth International Conference on American States held at Santiago, Chile where the plan finally materialized. The resolution of that plan was finally submitted to the Pan American Union on March 2, 1927. It was decided at that time to conduct a world-wide competition open to all architects from all countries for a final design. As a result, in the preliminary competition 455 architects from 45 countries participated.

The first International Jury of Award met in Madrid, Spain in April of 1929 where all the drawings were put on exhibit for the public to view. However, the Italian government also wanted to exhibit the plans, and they were moved to an exhibit in Rome in August of that year. Because of a combination of events, including the Great Depression followed by the outbreak of World War II and a corrupt government in the Dominican Republic, construction of the lighthouse did not start until 1948. However, almost as fast as the construction started, it slowed almost to a stop followed by years of political strife. When a new government took power in the Dominican Republic in 1966, there were high hopes when construction again resumed, but it also soon came to a halt. It wasn’t until 1986 that the first stones were laid to start construction of what would soon be the monumental lighthouse. Finally, in 1992, the Columbus Memorial Lighthouse was dedicated.

The structure is the most prominent Columbus monument in existence, 680 feet by 195 feet.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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