[Inscription on urn pedestal, 1856]:
This vase was erected by his friends in memory of
ANDREW JACKSON DOWNING
who died July 28, 1852, aged 37 years.
He was born, and lived, and died upon the Hudson River. His life was devoted to the improvement of the national taste in rural art, an office for which his genius and the natural beauty amidst which he lived had fully endowed him.
His success was as great as his genius, and for the death of few public men was public grief ever more sincere.
When these grounds were proposed, he was at once called to design them; but before they were completed he perished in the wreck of the steamer, Henry Clay.
His mind was singularly just, penetrating, and original. His manners were calm, reserved, and courteous. His personal memory belongs to the friends who loved him; his fame to the country which honors and laments him.
[Inscription on marker panel, placed in 1989]:
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Designed in memory of Andrew Jackson Downing by Calvert Vaux, Downing's architectural partner, 1856 Carrera marble urn & American marble base and pedestal.
In 1850, Andrew Jackson Downing transformed the Mall into the nation's first landscaped public park using informal, romantic arrangements of circular carriage drives and plantings of rare American trees. Downing's design endured until 1934, when the mall was restored to Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan. Downing (1815-1852), the father of American landscape architecture, also designed the White House and Capitol grounds.
The memorial urn stood on the Mall near the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History for 109 years (1856-1965). In 1972, it was restored and placed on the lawn east of the Smithsonian Building ("Castle") flag tower. In 1987, it was relocated to the rose garden at the Castle's east door. The urn was moved to its location in the Enid A. Haupt Garden in 1989.