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Photographer's Note

Pictured here is the Smithsonian Castle, located at 1000 Jefferson Drive, Washington DC. It is the oldest building on the National Mall, and its unique red castellated appearance makes it stand out, even among so many other iconic structures as there are here.

The castle was designed by architect James Renwick Junior and is made from red sandstone which came from Seneca Creek in Maryland. Its design is Norman and is a combination of 12th century Gothic and late Romanesque features.

When it first opened in 1855, the castle sat quite isolated from the city proper, with a canal dividing it from the main urban center. Its first purpose was as the home of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian and his family. In the decades that followed its construction, the castle became the anchor for the development of the National Mall as more museums and government buildings began to spring up around it and the area came to resemble more as we know it today.

A fire in 1865 saw the upper parts of the north and south towers destroyed, but renovations allowed the east wing to be fireproofed and expanded to provide more office space. in 1968 a two year restoration program returned the building to its original Victorian era appearance, and in 1977 the castle won status of historic landmark.

Until 1881, all aspects of the Smithsonian were housed here, including laboratories, libraries, exhibitions, storage and of course the living quarters for the secretary and his family. In 1881, the US National Museum opened next to the castle to house most of these exhibits and this began the expansion of the Smithsonian complex.

Today, the Smithsonian complex is the worlds largest museum and research complex, being home to 19 museums, 9 research centers and hundreds of affiliated museums around the world. Its exhibitions cover areas as diverse as Tropical Research, Archives of American art, astrophysical observatories, national history, the National Zoo and much, much more. I could have easily spent two weeks visiting the Smithsonian alone.

Thanks for looking!

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2573 W: 12 N: 6134] (21448)
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