First Building at the Zoo: The Buffalo Barn

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Article concerns architect William Ralph Emerson's Buffalo Barn, constructed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park in 1890 to house North American bison and elk. Designed in a style popular at the time, the building conveyed an image of animals living in their natural environment, and the barn's rustic appearance signified the American Wild West.


  • Emerson, William Ralph 1833-1917
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • Buffalo Barn


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


A photograph of the Buffalo Barn, ca. 1895, is included with the article.

Contained within

Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly (Newsletter)

Contact information

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


Fall 1991


  • Zoos
  • Architects
  • Architecture
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)--Early History

Physical description

p. 2

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