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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 33, August 13, 2006, Article 11

WOODROW WILSON BRIDGE MEDALLION INFORMATION QUEST

I caught a glimpse of the new Woodrow Wilson bridge on TV the other
night and saw what looked like a very large medallion showing Wilson's
profile embedded in one of the bridge's pylons.  The bridge carries
the Capitol Beltway across the Potomac river outside of Washington,
D.C.  The new bridge (actually TWO spans) is now open for traffic and
the old bridge is scheduled for demolition August 24th (My birthday!
Can I push the button?).

Anyway, curious about the medallions, I found the construction project
web site and emailed the public affairs director about it.  I had been
unable to find anything on the site about the medallions.

The next morning Alex Lee, Community Relations Manager for the Woodrow
Wilson Bridge Project replied:  "The medallions were located on the
old bridge. They were integrated as part of the design of the new
bridges (pylon/obelisk at the approach in Virginia and Maryland).
The "coins" were removed and then attached to the pylons.  I am not
sure who the artist was -  these were originally installed in 1961."

Alex included pictures of one of the medallions as mounted on the old
and new bridges.  It appears to feature a large neck-up bust of Wilson
facing left, flanked by his birth and death dates of 1856 and 1924.
It appears silver/grey in color and may be aluminum.  If you squint a
little it looks like a giant Mercury dime.

I checked with a few E-Sylum regulars and here's what they had
to say:

Rodger Burdette writes: "I don't know much about the medallions or
who designed them. At present one of the pylons is covered in plastic,
but the other is exposed. The one medallion that can be seen traveling
from Virginia into Maryland appears discolored. However, I presume it
will be restored before the 2nd span of the 12-lane bridge is opened
in 2008."

Dick Johnson agrees.  He writes: "It looks like the weather has been
unkind to those medallions.  They should be refinished.  Medallions
are Joe Levine's specialty. He lives nearby and I'll bet he can tell
you more than you want to know about these."

Joe Levine writes: "I've seen these for years, but have no idea of
their history or who did them.  Perhaps you might want to call the
curator at the Woodrow Wilson House.  Another source might be the
National Sculpture Society."

So I took Joe's advice and wrote to both organizations.  I didn't
exactly hit a mother lode of information, but here's what I learned
from Frank J. Aucella, Executive Director of the Woodrow Wilson House:
"They were indeed aluminum - state of the art for 1961.  The artist
was J. Paul Junewine."

An Internet search turned up nothing under that spelling, but I did
find an artist named C. Paul Jennewein. The Smithsonian Institution
Research Information System (SRIS) returned a reference to the "Carl
Paul Jennewein papers, 1910-1977".  The collection consists of 13
linear feet of material on 20 microfilm reels containing  "Drawings,
sketches, renderings, and designs, 1916-1976, for the following
commissions: Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, Brooklyn Central
Library, the Finance Building of Harrisburg, Pa., and the Jefferson
Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri." Also "Biographical material; writings
and notes; correspondence, 1920-1978, , including letters from Daniel
Chester French, Walker Hancock, Anna Hyatt Huntington.." and others.
Full Story

Here's an excerpt from an online biography:  "Jennewein was born in
Stuttgart, Germany, in 1890... The father was a die engraver and
permitted Paul to watch him work, which soon led to the son developing
a love of drawing, engraving and etching... After moving to Hoboken,
New Jersey-he became an U.S. citizen in 1915-Jennewein worked for the
firm of architectural sculptors and commercial modelers, Buhler and
Lauter, which was often used by McKim, Mead & White."

"Later in his career, Jennewein designed numerous commemorative medals,
for which he won many design awards. Jennewein used a number of foundries,
including the American Art Foundry, Bedford Foundry (later Modern Art
Foundry), Gargani Foundry, Gorham Company Founders, Kunst Foundry and
Roman Bronze Artworks.  His most active gallery association was with
Grand Central Galleries in Manhattan.  He died in Larchmont, New York
in 1978.  In his will over 2000 works were bequeathed to the Tampa
Museum of Art.

Among Jennewein's best known works are: the main entrance of the
British Empire Building at Rockefeller Center; four stone pylons for
the 1939 World's Fair representing the Four Elements; two pylons,
painted in the Egyptian style that flank the entrance to the Brooklyn
Public Library; allegorical relief panels in the White House Executive
Mansion; marble sculptures at the entrance to the Rayburn House of
Representatives Office Building; and thirteen sculptures of Greek
deity in the central pediment of the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

I followed up with Dick Johnson.  He writes: "I knew Paul Jennewein.
Strict German-American sculptor. He was the only sculptor I knew who
had a full time secretary (Mrs. Muzzy). He was also chairman of the
committee which chose the artists for all the Hall of Fame medals."

Other 'net searches found references to Jennewein's work on a number
of other monuments and traffic pylons in the Washington, D.C. area,
but nothing specifically noting the Woodrow Wilson bridge.  I'll stop
my search here - no smoking gun, but plenty of evidence to confirm the
artist was most likely C. Paul Jennewein.  Whew!  Now can anyone tell
us about some of his numismatic work?

To read the complete bio of C. Paul Jennewein: Full Story

To visit the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge project web site: Wilson Memorial Bridge

To read the White House biography of Wilson, see: White House biography

To visit the Woodrow Wilson House web site: Woodrow Wilson House

To visit the National Sculpture Society: National Sculpture Society

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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