The Smithsonian
The Old Patent Office Building Mary Henry's Diary SI During the Civil War Joseph Henry The Castle

n 1972, the Smithsonian American Art Museum opened its Renwick Gallery for the display of American crafts. The building, on the corner of Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House, was designed in the Second Empire style by James Renwick Jr. as an art gallery for Washington banker William Wilson Corcoran. Begun in 1859, the building was still under construction when in August 1861, the War Department seized it for use as a warehouse for records and uniforms. In 1864, the army’s quartermaster general, Montgomery C. Meigs, converted the unfinished interior spaces into offices. The building was not returned to its owner, William Corcoran, until four years after the war. In 1874, Corcoran opened sections of his art gallery to visitors.

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