Lincoln Book Tower – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura
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Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Book Tower

A three-story tower of books about Abraham Lincoln is one of the more unusual monuments to the president. 

Many monuments have been built around the United States to pay tribute to President Abraham Lincoln. This unusual one in Washington, D.C., stacks up to the others in a whimsically bookish way.

At the Petersen House, the house where Lincoln died, there’s a 34-foot-tall stack of books all dedicated to the life and times of the storied 16th president standing in the middle of a spiral staircase. It consists of 6,800 books and stretches three floors high.

Don’t worry about a potential fire hazard, though, as these books are replicas made from fireproof bent aluminum. Artists painstakingly recreated the book “jackets” to make them look more realistic.

The tower is a tribute to the many words written about the former president. It’s estimated that over 15,000 books have been penned about Lincoln, and that thousands more will be written in the future. Of the titles in the book tower, 205 are from real books still in print today. Some of these titles are available in the gift shop at the bottom of the stairs.

The memorial is a fun, quirky tribute in a place with an otherwise sad history. When Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater on the evening of April 14, 1865, it was determined he was too frail to journey back to the White House. The owners of the boarding house across the street generously insisted the president be brought into their home. President Lincoln lived a few more hours but died the next morning.

While visiting, in addition to admiring the book tower, visitors can stand in the room Lincoln died in and view dozens of exhibits, many containing authentic artifacts from that dreadful night in 1865.

Know Before You Go

The Petersen House can be toured with the purchase of a ticket from Ford's Theater across the street.