An Upstate New York Man Designed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington
If there is only one historic place that you visit in the United States during your lifetime, Arlington National Cemetery should be it.
Today, there are about 400,000 veterans (and their eligible dependents) laid to rest in Arlington which is one of the most serene and humbling places. It's impossible not to be filled with awe and gratitude as you look over the rows and rows of headstones and realize the sacrifices made by each individual who lies beneath.
Also located at Arlington is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Situated atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C., the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has served as the resting place of an unidentified World War I service member as well as other unidentified military members.
The Tomb of the Unkown Soldier is one of the most visited and iconic memorials in the United States of America and a man from Upstate New York designed it.
Lorimer Rich was born in Camden, New York, a town in Oneida County on December 24, 1891. Rich would later move to the Binghamton area where he graduated from Binghamton Central High School, class of 1910.
Following graduation from Binghamton Central High School, Rich would go on to graduate from Syracuse University in 1914 with a degree in architecture. After college, Rich joined the United States Army and served in World War I.
After World War I, Rich decided to continue his studies in Italy but eventually returned home, joining the firm of McKim, Mead, and White, but he grew restless and decided to venture out on his own.
In 1920, the Amphitheater in Arlington was completed but the Tomb of the Unknown Solder would not be placed in front of the Amphitheater until 1931. In 1929, a nationwide competition was held for the design of the tomb and over 70 architects submitted their designs.
Lorimer Rich of Upstate New York would be the architect whose design would be selected.
Rich's design of Doric pilasters at the corners and sides gives the monument the appearance of a Greek temple. Additionally, three figures in Greek robes stand at the temple door. The figures represent peace, victory, and valor. The inscription on the Tomb reads, "Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God."
Rich was commissioned to design several structures over the course of his career, none quite as notable as that of the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier, but impressive all the same.
Among Rich's work are several locations at Syracuse University including the Joe and Emily Lowe Gallery, the Archibold Gymnasium additions, the Women's Building, and Ernest I White Law College. Rich also designed Rich Hall at the State University of New York at Oswego named after his sister Grace Ellingwood Rich.
Rich passed away in Rome, New York, at the age of 86 on June 2, 1978, and is himself buried in Arlington National Cemetary relatively close to his grandest design - the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.