The catafalque is a simple base of rough pine boards nailed together and covered with black cloth. Although the base and platform have occasionally been altered to accommodate the larger size of modern coffins and for the ease of the attending military personnel, it is basically the same today as it was in Lincoln's time.
Presently the catafalque measures 7 feet 1 inch (216 cm) long, 2 feet 6 inches (76 cm) wide, and 2 feet (61 cm) high. The attached base is 8 feet 10 inches (269 cm) long, 4 feet 3½ inches (131 cm) wide, and 2 inches (5 cm) high. The platform is 11 feet 1 inch (338 cm) long, 6 feet (183 cm) wide, and 9¼ inches (23.5 cm) high.
The cloth covering the Lincoln catafalque has been replaced several times, but the style of the drapery is similar to that used in 1865.
When not in use, the Lincoln catafalque is kept in a specially constructed display area in the Exhibition Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center.
U.S. Capitol Services
Since 1865, the Lincoln catafalque has been used for most of the lying in state services in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. In the case of the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War, an additional catafalque was built with the coffin of each at some point resting on the Lincoln catafalque.
The Lincoln catafalque has not been used for most of those lying in honor: U.S. Capitol Police officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson in 1998 and Brian Sicknick in 2021, Rosa Parks in 2005, and Billy Graham in 2018. In 2021, U.S. Capitol Police Officer William Evans became the first person to lay in honor on the Lincoln catafalque.
For more information, please see the full list of those who have lain in state or in honor in the U.S. Capitol.
Other Use and Locations
The Lincoln catafalque has also been used for services in the Supreme Court Building for the lying in repose of:
- Justice Antonin Scalia; February 19, 2016
- Chief Justice William Rehnquist; September 6-7, 2005
- Justice Harry A. Blackmun; March 8, 1999
- Former Justice William J. Brennan Jr.; July 28, 1997
- Former Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger ; June 28, 1995
- Former Justice Thurgood Marshall; January 27, 1993
- Former Chief Justice Earl Warren; July 11-12, 1974
In 1996 it was used for the lying in state of Secretary of Commerce Ronald H. Brown at the Department of Commerce building.
Download the fact sheet which includes a list of all persons who have lain in state or in repose on the catafalque.