Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents, Minutes, 1846

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.


  • Present: George M. Dallas, William W. Seaton, Isaac S. Pennybacker, Sidney Breese, Robert Dale Owen, William J. Hough, Henry W. Hilliard, Richard Rush, Gideon Hawley, Alexander Dallas Bache, Joseph G. Totten. The members not present were Robert Brooke Taney, George Evans, Rufus Choate, William C. Preston.
  • The Board met in the room of the U.S. Vice-President in the Capitol. Messrs. Hough, Seaton, Totten, Rush, and Dallas each presented recommendations for the office of secretary; Mr. Rush also presented a letter from Miss Legare, the sister of the late Hush S. Legare, asking the regents to purchase her brother's library. Accompanied by letters from Mr. Owen and Mr. Seaton giving an account of the inquiries made by himself, Mr. Hough, and Mr. Totten, as well as letters from Mr. David Dale Owen and Professors Silliman and Fowler as to the the selection of materials for the building, the Chancellor reported to the board on behalf of the Committee on Buildings their findings in accordance with their assignment given at the board's last meeting to obtain a plan for the building and investigate the best materials for and ways of heating, lighting and ventilating this building.
  • The report stated that in order to give architects notice of the "objects and duties of the committee," it published the board's resolution establishing the Building Committee and explaining its responsibilities in the newspapers of Washington on September 22, 1846. However, realizing that the shortness of time between the publication and the board's next meeting would give little opportunity for communication with possible architects, the committee "entered upon a tour of personal inspection, hoping to accumulate information that might guide the board in the choice of a plan for building; and Mr. Owen, Mr. Hough, and Col. Totten visited our principal cities, examined many if not all of their most noted structures, had conferences with several architects...collected specimens of the best stone material, and obtained data upon which to estimate the cost of the contemplated building."
  • After detailing each person spoken with as well as each structure and city visited, the report stated that the architects who Mr. Owen conferred with were required to submit their plans to the board by the 25th of December, and that until such plans were received and one chosen, decisions regarding costs, materials, and modes of heating, lighting, and ventilating the building could not be made. The report also offered a resolution to designate as a site for the Institution "so much of the Mall, in the city of Washington, as lies between Seventh street and the river Potomac;" the resolution was taken up for consideration and the question of its adoption postponed until the following day. Out of thirteen plans, the committee recommended to the board two by Mr. James Renwick, Jr., in the Norman or Lombard style. The board authorized publication regarding the design of the building and any other important information regarding it. The board then adjourned to 12:00 the following day.


  • Renwick, James 1818-1895
  • Legare, Hugh S. 1797-1843
  • Breese, Sidney 1800-1878
  • Pennybacker, Isaac Samuels 1805-1847
  • Seaton, William Winston 1785-1866
  • Totten, Joseph Gilbert 1788-1864
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Dallas, George Mifflin 1792-1864
  • Hough, William Jervis 1795-1869
  • Hilliard, Henry W (Henry Washington) 1808-1892
  • Owen, Robert Dale 1801-1877
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Hawley, Gideon 1785-1870
  • Silliman, Benjamin 1816-1885
  • Legaré, Mary S (Mary Swinton)
  • Fowler, Professor
  • Owen, David Dale 1807-1860
  • Evans, George 1797-1867
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Preston, William C. 1794-1860
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Early History
  • Board of Regents
  • Board of Regents Special Committee
  • Board of Regents Committee on Buildings


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 1846/11/30 Regents Minutes
  • Board of Regents - Minutes of Meetings, 1846-


The Committee on Buildings reported on its first assignment, recommending two plans by architect James Renwick and a site for the Institution's building.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 1, Board of Regents Vol. 1 (Bound volume)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


  • 1879
  • November 30, 1846


  • Design
  • Architects
  • Architecture
  • Regents
  • Architectural design


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)


Board of Regents

Physical description

Number of pages: 4; Page numbers: 5-8

Full Record

View Full Record