Ivy on the Castle: Another of Smithson's Personal Effects?

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Prior to 1982, various types of ivy covered the Smithsonian Institution Building. The ivies were removed in that year due to masonry damage to the building, and Institution botanists dated most of the ivy roots as being about 20 years old. Another possibility exists, however, through a recently discovered letter written in 1900 by Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley. He thanks a woman for her gift of a slip of ivy from Smithsonian founder James Smithson's tomb in Genoa, Italy and states that he would have the ivy planted about the Smithsonian building.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article includes a 1975 photograph of the ivied Smithsonian Building.

Contained within

Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly (Newsletter)

Contact information

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


Summer 1992


  • Secretaries
  • Botany
  • Smithson tomb
  • Plants
  • Ivy

Physical description

pgs. 2 & 3

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