James Renwick's Building Plan Recommended




Date: November 30, 1846


Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

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.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


  • The building committee of the Board of Regents reports on their efforts to select an appropriate plan for a building to accommodate the functions of the Smithsonian. After visiting buildings in a number of cities and reviewing plans submitted by various architects, the committee recommended a plan submitted by architect James Renwick, Jr., in the later Norman, or more strictly Lombard style, as it prevailed in Germany, Normandy, and Southern Europe in the 12th century.
  • The 27 year-old Renwick is well known for his Gothic churches in New York, such as the Grace Church, Calvary Church, and Church of the Puritans. He submits both a Gothic and a Norman scheme of his design; however, the Regents are more taken with the practicality his Norman scheme.
  • In their presentation to the Board, the committee predicts that Renwick's design could be constructed and furnished for less than the sum of $242,129. allocated by the U.S. Congress. Renwick's design was not approved until January 28 of the following year.


  • Renwick, James 1818-1895
  • Board of Regents
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Board of Regents Committee on Buildings
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Competition


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • This drawing depicts the central pavilion of the north fac̦ade of the Smithsonian Institution Building. It is done in pencil on paper by architect James Renwick, Jr., as a developmental study in which he appears to be working out relationships between different architectural elements of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1846. In this Gothic scheme design, the building's north towers are symmetrical and stand on either side of the north entrance. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number SIA2012-1142.
  • 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 D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1879, p. 5-7.
  • Smithsonian Institution, Report of the Board of Regents to Congress, March 3rd 1847. Accession 09-007, Box 6, Folder "Smithsonian Institution Building Competition 1846."

Contact information

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


November 30, 1846


  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Drawings and plans
  • Architecture
  • Architecture--Drawings and plans
  • Architecture--Design and plans

Full Record

View Full Record