On the hilltop alongside Wisconsin Avenue NW, where the limestone cathedral soars above the city, children chased each other across the sun-flecked lawn and camera-toting tourists snapped photos and chatted in several languages.
Melanie Martinez, 30, of east Texas had been on a tour that started at 3:30 p.m., but the group was ushered out without explanation after about 20 minutes.
“I don’t know why anyone would destroy our history,” she said. “There was so much more that I wanted to see. I’d like to go up in the tower.” She might come back before her vacation ends Friday.
The cathedral was closed when Sybille Eder, visiting from Kiel, Germany, arrived with her family. “I think people just do vandalism to get the attention of the press,” she said.
Another report Monday described paint found on a statue of Martin Luther in Northwest Washington’s Thomas Circle. Gwendolyn Crump, a D.C. police spokeswoman, said police are aware of the report and are investigating.
The damage at the Lincoln Memorial was first reported about 1:30 a.m. Friday by people out for a late-night stroll. One of the women told The Washington Post that she discovered two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles overflowing with green and white paint, as well as white footprints near the inscription of the Gettysburg Address.
Carol Johnson, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said that workers have removed 90 percent of the paint but that it will be several more days before scaffolding alongside the 91-ton statue is removed.
On Friday night, a man e-mailed The Post to say that green paint also been splashed on a statue near the Smithsonian Castle, the museum’s administrative headquarters. A spokeswoman for the Park Service, as well as the Park Police, said no such damage had occurred.
On Monday morning, Linda St. Thomas, the chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution, said green paint was found splotched in two places on the base of the bronze statue of Joseph Henry outside the Smithsonian Castle. Henry was the museum’s first secretary, and he died in the Castle in 1878.
St. Thomas said the paint will be removed within one or two days.
Michael E. Ruane and Clarence Williams contributed to this report.