Monday, October 6, 2008

Public Garden

The Castle--an example of Norman architecture
and the seat of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian Institution Building, otherwise known as The Castle, opened on the National Mall in 1855. Designed by architect James Renwick, the castle is built of red sandstone from Seneca Creek in Maryland and is representative of Norman architecture--a combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic styles. Originally, the building was the residence of the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry and his family. For more than 100 years, it was also the only exhibit building in what would later become a vast network of museums and collections.

The Smithsonian Castle and Enid A. Haupt Gardens

In January 1865, the upper story and the north and south towers of the castle were destroyed in a fire. The building was reconstruction and, in 1884, the east wing was fireproofed and additional office space was added. It would be more than 80 years before any additional work was done on the castle. From 1968-1969, the interior of the building was restored to its original Victorian atmosphere. In 1987, a redesign of the exterior quadrangle resulted in a lovely public garden named for donor Enid A. Haupt.

English Dwarf Boxwoods in four varieties in the Haupt Garden.

The Haupt Garden is situated on four acres of land between the south side of the Castle and Independence Avenue NW. The garden doubles as the roof for the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley Center. Some of the garden's highlights include the Haupt Parterre, the Moongate Garden, the Renwick Gates, and a Downing Urn.

I couldn't decide which picture of the Castle and Renwick Gate I liked best,
so I decided to post both and let Virginia decide!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential


Virginia said...

Oh my, I am flattered beyond words! And the verdict is......ALL FOUR! I can't decide because you did a great job on all of them. How's that for straddling the fence? I've been listening to too much political gobbledygook. The last shot is the most intriguing as I try and imagine you lying prone on the sidewalk to get that angle. :)

Wayne said...

Gawd! There'll be no living with her now.

I don't sit on the fence very often. I choose the second from the top. I like the composition.

I've only been to the Smithsonian once, back when Virginia was still a kid, and about all I can remember is the Spirit of St. Louis and the Focault Pendulum. I don't know where this building is in relation to those exhibits.

D.C. Confidential said...

Virginia: The one that looks like I probably took it while lying prone was actually taken using a six inch tripod! (There. Now you know all of my secrets!)

Wayne: I like the second one, too. Good choice! The Castle is west of the Air & Space Museum, where you saw the Spirit of St. Louis. Foucault's Pendulum was exhibited in the National Museum of American History on the north side of the Mall. It was removed in 1998 to make room for the flag that flew over Ft. McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, when Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner. According to the Smithsonian's website, there are no plans to return the pendulum to permanent exhibit.

Virginia said...

There's a term for this in football....piling on. I am digging in on my final answer for number 4. Tripod??? Did you get official DC certification for said tripod?
Wayne, watch it!

Wayne said...

Oh, oh.

Where am I? What day is it? I must have blacked out for 12 or 14 hours.

How did that comment get in there!?

Maya said...

This building looks so unamerican somehow. I do really like that garden shot. Nice perspective!

Maya said...

I think we'd prefer to picture you lying on the ground for that last shot... You can't make me change my imagination, so don't even try!

Dusty Lens said...

Excellent use of the mini tripod! Comes in handy for those getting the belly dirty shots.

USelaine said...

Well, it's left for me to choose unpopular number three, I guess. I love the controlled form and colors. But then, they really are all lovely shots. 8^)
November theme has been chosen!
Remember to vote for the December theme now!

babooshka said...

I'm not a tripod girl. I have them just to lazy to cart them around. More a getting down and dirty with the ground girl, so more the last shot grabbed me most, but all wonderful. It's such a grand building and one of those that is as iconic in name this side of the pond, if not the images. Now though I can relate what I know of the place to how it views. Vriginia, off the fence or you'll get splinters in your butt. She's going to virtually kick my butt for that.

D.C. Confidential said...

Virginia: Nope, no permission needed to use a tripod here! That reminds me, I have a picture of the Capitol I need to post that will make you chuckle. I'll post it on Wednesday.

Wayne: We're in Washington, D.C., where denial and selective memory is the name of the game! ;-)

Maya: It does look a little English, doesn't it? I suppose the architectural style gives it sort of a timeless look. As for laying on the ground, in this town, if you do that people either think you're a loon or the police think you're a sniper. Neither seem to work in my favor! :-)

Rob: I love my mini tripod. So easy and convenient and particularly good for the sort of perspective I managed in this photo.

USElaine: No. 3 is nice, too. I love English Dwarf Boxwoods. I've been considering using them in my yard to landscape, because it's so small.

Babooshka: The larger tripods are definitely a pain and require more planning and foresight. That's the nice thing about the six incher--you can put it in your pocket and go. As for Virginia, if she gets splinters in her butt, she's on her own. My friendship only goes so far, you know!

Professor said...

I just love the Smithsonian and the Castle is my second favorite one. And one of the things I love most about it is all the red brick in a city of white marble.

D.C. Confidential said...

Prof: The Smithsonian is such a treasure in our nation! I totally take this institution for granted here. Only when I visit other cities do I realize how great we've got it here.