By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (August 24, 2021) – In Issue 2021-162 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, we learn how fire destroyed volumes of the Library of Congress over 100 years ago.


On this day in 1814, the British troops invaded Washington City (now Washington DC) and set fire to the Capitol building, the Presidential Mansion, and other local landmarks. Although the occupation only lasted 26 hours, it is the only time since the Revolutionary War that a foreign government captured and occupied the US capital city.

A heavy thunderstorm put out the fires, but not before the original volumes making up the Library of Congress was lost. Although First Lady Dolley Madison is credited with saving the portrait of George Washington, she actually carried out the silver while the gardener and doorman saved the painting along with other valuables and, as a bonus, that evening’s dinner.

Here is how Washington appeared 50 years later, according to cartographer Mitchell.

Washington D.C. – Circa 1864 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.