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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Feb. 12, 2014: National Building Museum

National Building Museum 1

Great Hall of the National Building Museum, in the historic Pension Building.


I first visited this museum to see an exhibit on the development of urban transportation—with no hint what the building itself would look like. It took my breath, and heart, away and it was nearly an hour before I actually got to what I came for.


The building was put up in 1881 to house the Pension Bureau, responsible for Civil War veteran pensions. The architect was Gen. Montgomery Meigs, Quartermaster of the Army, who viewed it not only as fireproof and functional space (the huge central hall provided light for the offices ringing it) but also as a veterans' memorial and a space for grand functions—and it has several times hosted Presidential Inaugural Balls.


Pension Building

 General Services Administration photo


The columns are 75' high, and the Great Hall (and the frieze decorating the exterior) are 1200' long--one of the largest spaces in the capital. For more on the building, click HERE.


The National Building Museum has occupied the space since 1985; its mission is to explore "the history and impact of the built environment." Certainly a great use for this landmarked building which was almost torn down in the 1950s! For more about the museum, click HERE.



National Building Museum 2



Images (3)
  • National Building Museum 1
  • National Building Museum 2
  • Pension Building

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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