East Wing of Smithsonian Building or "Castle" Completed




Date: April 10, 1849


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The east wing of the Smithsonian Institution Building or "Castle" is completed and is occupied by a lecture room, a laboratory and apparatus rooms. James Renwick, Jr., a New York architect known for his ecclesiastical designs, is the architect. Secretary Joseph Henry calls it "an example of the most striking kind of failure of attempting to adopt the architecture of the middle ages to the wants and usages of the 19th century." By year's end, the west wing would also be completed, and plans were made to house the library in the west wing until the main building was finished.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Renwick, James 1818-1895
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Apparatus Room
  • Smithsonian Institution Building East Wing
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Lecture Hall
  • Smithsonian Library


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is of the Laboratory of Natural History in the East Wing of the Castle, c. 1856, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 2005-10437.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 834.
  • Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for 1853, p. 176 (184).
  • Oehser, Paul H. The Smithsonian Institution. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, p. 188.

Contact information

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


April 10, 1849


  • Construction
  • Architecture
  • Lectures and lecturing
  • Libraries
  • Buildings

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