The Taft family of Cincinnati, Ohio, has inspired two major Capitol Hill landmarks. William Howard Taft, the nation’s twenty-seventh president and tenth chief justice, successfully campaigned for construction of the Supreme Court Building, allowing the Court to move out of its cramped Capitol quarters in 1935. His son, Robert Alphonso Taft, who represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate from 1939 until his death in 1953, is the subject of the Taft Memorial, located one block north and west of the Capitol.
The memorial includes a one-hundred-foot bell tower of Tennessee marble resting on a base fifteen feet above ground level. A ten-foot bronze statue of Robert Taft stands on that base, along the tower’s west side. Incised in the marble above his head are words paying tribute to “the honesty, indomitable courage and high principles of free government symbolized by his life.” The bell tower’s unadorned design reflects Taft’s “simple strength and quiet dignity.”
The tower’s carillon includes twenty-seven matched bronze bells ranging in weight from six tons to 126 pounds. The large central bell strikes on the hour, while the smaller fixed bells chime on the quarter-hour. By resolution of Congress, they play the Star Spangled Banner at 2 p.m. on the Fourth of July.