The Upstairs Lecture Hall

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Describes the Smithsonian Institution Building's Lecture Hall, its design and various uses over the years. In 1849 Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry designed a lecture room for the East Wing; the area was renovated to provide living space for Henry's family living quarters and allow for a new Lecture Hall which seated 1,500. From 1855 until it was destroyed by the January 1865 fire, the hall was used for scientific demonstrations, public lectures, meetings and concerts. Most of the area formerly occupied by the Lecture Hall has since been turned into office and meeting room space.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article includes a sketch of the 1855-1865 Lecture Hall.

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 1993


  • Design
  • Architecture
  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • SI, Early History
  • Architecture--Design and plans

Physical description


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