The House that Alice Built

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  • Article details the life and times of artist and arts patroness Alice Pike Barney (1857-1931) and describes her Washington, D.C., home, Studio House. Barney's elaborate home, completed in 1903 with decorated spaces for exhibiting art, staging theatricals and hosting salons, played a central role in Washington cultural life for 25 years. After Barney's 1931 death, Studio House was rented for 30 years; her daughters then gave the house, and Barney's art collection, to the Smithsonian Institution as a cultural center and museum. The building was used for Smithsonian offices and to house visiting dignitaries; the first two floors were restored and opened to public tours in 1980.
  • However, the author relates that budget constraints prompted the Smithsonian's Board of Regents to explore selling the home; at the time the article was written a group called Friends of Alice Pike Barney Studio House was working with Smithsonian officials to develop a restoration and fund-raising partnership. The preservation group notes that the home is one of the few remaining early 20th century urban studios and an important piece of American artistic history.


  • Barney, Alice Pike 1857-1931
  • Barney Studio House (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Eleven photographs accompany the article.

Contained within

Historic Preservation (Journal)

Contact information

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


September/October 1994


  • Artists' studios
  • Historic buildings
  • Historic preservation
  • Artists
  • Biography

Physical description

pp. 60-66, 95, 98, 100 & 102

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