Smithsonian Institution Building, Washington D.C

smithsonian institution building - the castle
smithsonian institution building, washington dc
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Smithsonian Institute Building - The Castle

 

A red Seneca sandstone finish in a Faux Norman style, the Smithsonian Institution Building was the first among the Smithsonian buildings built in 1847 by architect James Renwick Jr. Aptly, nicknamed “The Castle”. It is situated in National Mall, Washington DC, serving as the focal point for the striking landscape and collection of structures.


The Castle is divided into a central section, two extensions, and two wings. Nine towers crown its top

with four of the towers habitable, while the remaining five smaller towers are mostly decorative adding

to the Romanesque and Gothic theme of the castle. The East Wing, completed in 1849, was once

occupied by Secretary Joseph Henry himself and his family.


An unfortunate 1865 fire caused extensive damage that destroyed a number of valuable artifacts including the files and correspondences of James Smithson, Henry; two hundred of J.M. Stanley oil paintings of American Indians; and the collection of the public libraries of Alexandria, Virginia and Beaufort, South Carolina. All of which, were confiscated by Union forces during the American Civil War.


Now “The Castle” serves as the Smithsonian’s administrative offices and information center with the

main visitor center located here. Electronic displays, maps and computers offer visitors guidance as well as answers to common questions about the Smithsonian.

 
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