Fireproofing of SIB Interior Begins




Date: June 13, 1853


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Work commences on the construction of a fireproof interior for the Smithsonian Institution Building or "Castle" based upon the plans of Captain B.S. Alexander of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. In 1852, Alexander had replaced Mr. James Renwick, Jr., whose contract as architect concluded. Gilbert Cameron is allowed to continue as contractor.


  • Alexander, B. S (Barton Stone) 1819-1878
  • Cameron, Gilbert
  • Renwick, James 1818-1895
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Floor plan of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1849. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 2002-10707.
  • It appears to be a matter of dispute as to whether Renwick fulfilled his entire obligation under contract. According to Oehser, Adolph Cluss was employed to plan and superintend reconstruction and remedy defective parts of the structure. The Annual Report does not mention Cluss.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1853, p. 67
  • Oehser, Paul H. The Smithsonian Institution. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, p. 187
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, volume 18, number 329. "Journals of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1846-76, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc." ed. by William J. Rhees. Washington: Published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1879., p. 707

Contact information

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


June 13, 1853


  • Architecture
  • Controversies
  • Repair and reconstruction
  • Buildings
  • Buildings--Repair and reconstruction

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