George Washington and Thomas Jefferson invented the architecture of American democracy when they chose the classical style for the new nation's capital and most important structures. Their decision consciously linked the city to the ideals of republican Rome and democratic Athens.

The Founders knew that the classical tradition is time-honored and timeless. In a letter to Pierre L’Enfant, the planner Washington, D.C., Jefferson expressed his wish for a capitol designed after “one of the models of antiquity, which have had the approbation of thousands of years.”

The founding generation no more slavishly imitated other societies’ architecture than the founders imitated other forms of government when they drafted the U.S. Constitution. Instead, they sought and created an unmistakably American idiom. 

The National Civic Art Society aims to advance that classical tradition in federal architecture.


"Washington: The Classical City" documentary produced by the National Civic Art Society.

The Classical Plan of Washington, D.C.

"We Must Preserve the Founders' Classical Vision for Our Nation's Capital." Public Discourse