The Washington National Monument Society collected $87,000 for the construction of the Washington Monument, and in 1836 they held a competition for designs.
A design submitted by Robert Mills, a well-known architect who had already created a monument to Washington in Baltimore, won the competition. His design provided for a decorated obelisk with a height of 600-feet (183 meters), which was to rise from a circular colonnaded building with a height of 100-feet (30.5 meters) and 250-feet in diameter. The monument was going to be an American pantheon containing a colossal statue of George Washington.

However, the original design was greatly modified during the construction of the monument. Today, the Washington Monument is a hollow shaft without any type of decoration or embellishment. In fact, it has very little in common with Mills' design.

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