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Libraries & Spaces
Did the Edmund A. Walsh Memorial Building once contain the largest rotating globe in the world?
Yes, when the Walsh Building opened in 1958 to house the Foreign Service School, there was a globe of bluish-green Plexiglas in its lobby. Ten feet in diameter, the globe was illuminated from within, and made a complete rotation every three minutes. Its designer and builder, French sculptor Pierre Bourdelle, described it as the largest globe of its type in existence. The globe remained in Walsh until the building was renovated in 1983. At that time, according to a Washington Post article of September 21, 1984, the contractor in charge of the renovation was told to dispose of the globe, which had not aged well. Then Dean of the School of Foreign Service, Peter Krogh, is quoted in the article as saying: “The names of countries and continents kept falling off, and it just wasn't maintained to its original splendor.” However, a Virginia businessman, whose janitorial, cleaning and supply company serviced Georgetown, saw its potential and paid almost $4,000 to hoist the globe out of the building and transport it to his Springfield, Virginia home, where he placed it in his backyard to rotate “at parties or on special occasions.”