A Memorable Occasion
The ball itself was a lavish affair; 7,000 people attended, and the building’s interior was decorated in bunting and lit with 3,000 gas lights. A figure of “America” in the Rotunda holding aloft an arc-light was particularly well-received, and enthusiastic mention was made of it in newspapers the following day.
A New York Times article described the ball as “a complete success in every way… far [exceeding] anything of the kind ever witnessed before in Washington.” The Times article went on to praise the building’s design: “the central dome seemed to swing in mid-air, with all the delicate and graceful tracery of lines and arches and clinging garlands.”
Remarkably, photographs still exist of the interior’s decorative treatments, created specially for Garfield’s ball.