Dedicated on May 15, 1920, the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery replaced the Old Amphitheater as the host site for official ceremonies honoring service members. Sitting on a hill overlooking the city of Washington, the complex contains the amphitheater, a memorial display room, a chapel beneath the stage, and the Tomb of the Unknowns, where a guard has been continuously on duty since 1937. Every U.S. President has attended gatherings at the amphitheater since its construction. President Woodrow Wilson laid the cornerstone in 1915 and placed in it, among other items, copies of the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution.
Designed by the firm Carrère and Hastings, this classical landscape feature, typical of the firm’s Beaux-Art style, echoes the architectural language of monumental Washington. The elliptical amphitheater, surrounded by a colonnade, is stark white, mainly Vermont-quarried, Danby marble. Several inscriptions decorate the structure. The building and amphitheater are surrounded by informal groves of shade trees and a series of diminishing formal lawn panels, which focuses the visitor’s attention on the city view to the east. These lawns are edged by large evergreen hedges, which further emphasize the view to Washington.