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Architectural History

AHHP maintains a growing library and files archived in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. These are important resources in writing the history of Smithsonian buildings. We do independent research to support design and construction projects, and manage research contracts with specialty preservation firms to undertake Determinations of Eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places and to add Smithsonian buildings and sites to the National Register as they become eligible. To date we have five National Historic Landmark buildings, and over forty  other buildings that are individually on the National Register of Historic Places or contribute to national, state or locally eligible historic districts.

Historic resources are found in Washington, DC along the National Mall or in the downtown area, at the National Zoological Park, across the Anacostia River, in New York City, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, and at the Front Royal, Virginia location of the historic Remount Station and now the home of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. AHHP uses architectural history to help ensure conservation of significant spaces, finishes and features when work is undertaken. 

AHHP uses the highest level of documentation, such as the Historic American Building Survey administered by the National Park Service to photograph and record aspects of our buildings. Often this is in conjunction with capital improvement projects to record “before” conditions as part of the historical record of change. Historic Structure Reports are commissioned for major buildings such as the Smithsonian Castle, Arts and Industries Building, Carnegie Mansion, Renwick Gallery, with others planned in the future.

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