Forget Lincoln Logs: A Tower Of Books To Honor Abe

Feb 19, 2012
Originally published on February 21, 2012 9:26 am

This President's Day, a group of historians in Washington, D.C., decided they wanted to do something different to recognize the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. But how do you memorialize someone who is already one of the most memorialized people in history?

Their solution: to physically illustrate Lincoln's importance by creating a tower of books written about him. The tower measures about eight feet around and 34 feet — that's three and a half stories tall.

"It makes a real statement to anyone that this is an important guy and there was a whole lot written about him, and there continues to be a whole lot written about him," says Paul Tetreault, director of Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.

The towering tribute to the 16th president rises up through the middle of a spiral staircase in the lobby of the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership, located just across the street.

Some 15,000 books have been written about Lincoln — more books, says Tetreault, than have been written about any other person in world history, with the exception of Jesus Christ.

Nearly 7,000 of these books are contained in the tower. They even look authentic up close (click here to get a closer look) but the tower's books are actually replicas made of pieces of bent aluminum, with the covers of the real books printed on them.

"There are books here for people of all ages," says Tetreault. "There's young people's books, there's an Abraham Lincoln stickers book, there's an Abraham Lincoln coloring book. And then of course there's all of the bestsellers: David Herbert Donald's great book about Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals — all of these major scholars who've written about Abraham Lincoln, they're all contained in this stack."

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And on this President's Day, we remember one of the most-remembered U.S. presidents. Some 15,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln, and a group of historians in Washington D.C. wanted a way to illustrate that number.

PAUL TETREAULT: How do you visualize the fact that there are more books written about Abraham Lincoln than any other person in world history, with the exception of Jesus Christ?

MONTAGNE: That's Paul Tetreault, the director of Ford's Theatre. That's the Ford's Theatre where President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. In the lobby of a building just across the street is a towering tribute to the 16th president.

TETREAULT: What we are standing here looking at is a 34-foot tower of books about Abraham Lincoln.

MONTAGNE: Nearly 7,000 of them. They're not real books, but they look authentic - even close up. That's because they're made out of bent aluminum, but they have covers of actual books printed on them.

TETREAULT: There are books here for people of all ages. There's young people's books. There's an Abraham Lincoln stickers book. There's an Abraham Lincoln coloring book. And then there's, of course, all of the bestsellers, you know, David Herbert Donald's great book about Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, "Team of Rivals," you know, all of these major scholars who've written about Abraham Lincoln. They're all contained in this stack.

MONTAGNE: The book tower is about eight feet around, and it rises up through the middle of a spiral staircase.

TETREAULT: When you actually look up and continue to look up for three-and-a-half stories and see a pile of books, it makes a real statement to anyone that, you know, this is an important guy and there was a whole lot written about him, and there continues to be a whole lot written about him.

MONTAGNE: That Lincoln book tower is located in the lobby of the new Ford's Theatre Center for Education and Leadership. It opens to the public tomorrow, but you can see pictures of it today at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.