Smithsonian Institution Building, or "Castle"

ID: SIA2011-1448 or 32004 or 131133 or 2002-21691

Creator: Brady & Co. (Washington, D.C.)

Form/Genre: Exterior

Date: 1863

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 67, Folder: 4

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  • View of the Smithsonian Institution Building looking east up B Street (Independence Ave) towards the U.S. Capitol. Grounds are landscaped following a plan laid out by Andrew Jackson Downing, with the Castle nestled among trees. Visible amidst the trees is the Magnetic Observatory, built in 1853. People stand along the fence installed along the sidewalk on B Street.
  • In this image, the central roof of the Castle is intact and the small towers have the caps on them. In January of 1865, a fire destroyed the central roof and the caps on the towers, so this photograph had to have been taken prior to January 1865 and is most likely April 1863. The Capitol dome, seen in the distance, is not yet completed.


  • Downing, A. J (Andrew Jackson) 1815-1852
  • United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Magnetic Observatory
  • South Yard


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • See also 91-10382. This is probably by the Brady Studio. There are similar images at the Library of Congress and National Archives. The Library of Congress also has a copy of this photo with the hand-written caption at bottom of photo in script saying, 'Washington, D.C., April, 1865.' (This cannot be April 1865 because it was before the fire in January 1865.)
  • This photo has the handwritten caption "Washington, D.C., April, 1865". See Negative Number 91-10382 for photo without caption.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 67, Folder: 4

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Landscapes
  • Landscape architecture
  • SI Buildings


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)


  • Exterior
  • Photographic print
  • Landscape

ID Number

SIA2011-1448 or 32004 or 131133 or 2002-21691

Physical description

Number of Images: 1 Color: Sepia, Black and White; Type of Image: Landscape; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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