This is where the administrative offices of the Smithsonian Instution are. Also there's an information center with interactive touch-screen stations.
One cool thing about Washington DC is that it's the city with most Smithsonian museums, and the best of all, they are all FREE!
This castle, and generally all the Smithsonian Museums here are opened 8:30am to 5:30pm.
The Smithsonian consists of many buildings, but the centerpiece is the castle. Located about midway down the mall...it's towers can be seen from the distance...holding promise of wonderful things to see and learn about. There is an information center in the building and for members....there is a wonderful castle room restaurant with the best buffet in town. Served daily from 11 - 2 pm. Hope you get to enjoy it sometime.
UPDATE: I'm told that the buffet is no longer being served. They have scaled down to a small sandwich cafe. Sad. The buffet was always very well attended when I was there.
James Smithson's Gift
"I then bequeath the whole of my property...to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge..." James Smithson (1765-1829) From there a very impressive institute was created. You can read more about the mystery behind this on the web site.
The Smithsonian's first building, popularly known as the Castle, houses the Institution’s administrative offices and the Smithsonian Information Center. I stopped in here because it was one of the most unique buildings in the National Mall and I did get information there on the rest of the buildings. I remember there was a small cafe there as well.
It was Completed in 1855, the original Smithsonian Institution Building was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. This Washington landmark is constructed of red sandstone from Seneca Creek, Maryland, in the Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs).
This building served as a home for the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry and his family. Located inside near the north entrance is the crypt of James Smithson, benefactor of the Institution, while outside on the Mall, a bronze statue of Joseph Henry, executed by William Wetmore Story, honors the eminent scientist who was the Institution’s first Secretary.
The Smithsonian's first building, popularly known as the Castle, houses the Institution’s administrative offices and the Smithsonian Information Center. It's located on the Capital Mall surrounded by many of its famous museums. Completed in 1855, the original Smithsonian Institution Building was designed by architect James Renwick Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. This Washington landmark is constructed of red sandstone from Seneca Creek, Maryland, in the Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs). Definite stop-off point for information about the Smithsonian and its many museums. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
This ornate, red-brick "castle" was built in 1855 by James Renwick. It houses the Visitors Center, a small cafe, and exhibits on James Smithson. He was a wealthy Englishman who left a vast endowment to create this magnificent collection of museums.
The first Smithsonian Museum building we saw was The Castle. This was the museum's first building, built in 1855. It's made of red sandstone in Norman style which is a 12th cen. combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic. Now it houses the administrative offices and the information center. The Arts and Industries Building was built between 1879-1881 and is Victorian. We headed to the Natural History Museum. We only saw the fossil/dinosaur area and the mineral/gem display which included the Hope Diamond. It is so well done and there is so much to learn. You could spend weeks in just this one museum and there are many others. And they are all free. It was very interesting.
When we think of the Smithsonian we think of "the castle". But the Smithsonian Institution includes a wide range of museums. Among my favorites are the Freer & Sackler Galleries of Asian Art.
This picture was taken from behind the famous castle.
Some of the component museums, including the Sackler and the African ones are underground, leaving land for gardens, fountains and sculpture.
The Smithsonian's first building, known as the Castle, houses the Institution’s administrative offices and the Smithsonian Information Center. The original Smithsonian Institution Building was designed by the same guy who designed St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and finished in the mid 1850s. It's old-world architectural style stands out like a watermelon in a bowl full of chick peas amid more modern buildings of the Smithsonian and the monuments on the edges of the mall.
When visiting DC, every tourst should visit the Smithsonian's Visitor Center prior to touring the museums. It is open daily 8:30-5:30. The building, built to look like a castle, is made of red sandstone. It is centetrally located on the National Mall and has entrances on Jefferson Drive and through the Enid A. Haupt Garden. The castle is the focal point for the Smithsonian's 16 museums in DC, the National Zoo in DC and it's 2 musueums in NYC.
There are several information options to choose from. Volunteer Information Specialists are on hand to answer questions and provide directions. You can even see a free 24-minute video orientation at various times throughout the day. My one complaint is that I couldn't find the pamphlets I wanted and it was so crowded the day I stopped in that I couldn't be bothered waiting around. Luckily there are maps every block or so to view.
The Smithsonian Castle is a good place to start experiencing the marvels of this great institution. It is the original home of the Smithsonian built in 1865. Interestingly, the funds to found the Institution came from and Englishman, James Smithson for the purpose of “increasing and diffusing knowledge among men.” I love the old building although not much of the collection can be seen here as the Smithsonian comprises 18 museums and galleries. However, there are interesting displays and information on Smithson and the early construction as well as the Crypt Room where the tomb of Mr. Smithson is housed. The old castle with its irregular shape and series of towers, turrets and spires of red stone make it stand out and, in my opinion, very attractive. Just behind the castle is a lovely 4 acre garden. We got coffee from the little cafe and coffee bar inside and enjoyed sitting on a little terrace overlooking the garden.
Hay Adams Hotel Washington D.C.
6 Reviews and 347 Opinions the hay-adams hotel is located on lafayette square a block from the white house. the hay-adams is in...
See all 170 Hotels in Washington D.C.
Willard Inter-Continental Washington Washington D.C.
8 Reviews and 745 Opinions Not just a typical hotel in the chain, this oozes presidential character. Located well, near the...
See all 170 Hotels in Washington D.C.