On February 12, 1915, officials laid the cornerstone of the now-iconic Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., half-a-century after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Congress approved $2 million for the project: a neoclassical monument designed by architect Henry Bacon. But, as History explains, if Bacon's design wasn't chosen, the Lincoln Memorial would have looked quite different, like, say, an Egyptian pyramid.
Initially, the commission chose Bacon to design the Lincoln Memorial in West Potomac Park. Former House Speaker Joseph Cannon, however, wanted some competition for the design, so the commission enlisted architect John Russell Pope to create his own set of proposals for two different locations.
Pope first came up with a massive "temple memorial" for Meridian Hill, featuring a 100-foot-wide staircase that fell from the structure's 250-foot-high elevation (that's 150 feet higher than Capitol Hill.) Pope's second design, for the grounds of Soldiers' Home, was a round structure with columns encircling a figure of Lincoln. And as it turns out, he also submitted some pretty unexpected concepts, including graphite sketches that resemble a Mayan temple, a huge ziggurat, and an Egyptian pyramid.
And here's a scrapped design from Bacon: