Agriculture, Architects, and the Mall, 1901-1905:

By Dana G. Dalrymple

AT the turn of the twentieth century, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was a bustling and crowded scientific enterprise. It was, rather oddly, largely located on the Mall, with jurisdiction over the block between Twelfth and Fourteenth streets and what are now Independence and Constitution avenues (then B streets, South and North). Its principal offices and laboratories were on the south side of the Mall or in rented quarters across Independence Avenue. The department had long sought expanded and improved laboratory space, but it was not until 1901 that Congress approved funds to plan a new building. Concurrently, the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, headed by James McMillan of Michigan, established the Senate Park Commission to provide a master plan for the orderly development of Washington. The inadvertent combination of location and legislation thrust the Department of Agriculture into an unexpected role in civic planning on a grand scale. The key issue proved to be establishing a building line for the Mall (the width of the central greensward from the front of the buildings on the north side to those on the south), but there were a host of other architectural and political issues as well. Their resolution was critical in realizing the Senate Park Commission's vision for the development of the Mall. [1]


The Department of Agriculture was preceded on the Mall, and located between, the Smithsonian Institution (begun in 1847) on the east and the Washington Monument (begun in 1848) on the west (fig. 1). Both had followed a fairly formal legislative path to the Mall, and their placement, particularly that of the monument, played a very substantial role in the later discussions about alignment and building line. The Department of Agriculture, however, won a prized Mall location more by happenstance than design.

Fig. 1 The Washington Monument and surrounding area, 24 September 1850, as drawn by Montgomery Meigs. The Jefferson Pier, which marks the true axis of the Mall, is located in the left center foreground at the edge of Tiber Creek. Smithsonian Institution (Neg. 35576B)

President James K. Polk and most of the Smithsonian's regents originally favored the present Department of Agriculture site for the Smithsonian because of it's relatively high elevation. They were opposed by Washington mayor, William W. Seaton, a regent who favored the present Smithsonian site between Ninth and Twelfth streets because it was closer to the city's business hub. This latter location was ratified by Polk on 17 January 1847. The question of where to place the Smithsonian's building had been considered as early as 9 December 1846, when it was resolved to put it at least 250 feet south of the center of the Mall. The regents decided on 20 March 1847 to place the center of the building on the center of the lot from north to south, which would have put its center 380 feet from the Mall's central axis. When it's cornerstone was laid on 1 May 1847, the Smithsonian's front façade was 300 feet south of the real axis, leaving a central greensward, or parkway, 600 feet in width. [2]

The site for the Washington Monument had been debated for about a decade before Robert Mills's design for a 600-foot-tall obelisk surrounded by a circular pantheon 200 feet in diameter was adopted on 18 November 1845. On 31 January 1848, Congress granted the Washington National Monument Society access to "the public grounds or reservations," and on 2 February the society chose Reservation No. 3. Two months later the society decided to build only the present obelisk. The process followed in selecting the present site on this large plot is unclear. The proceedings of the Board of Managers of the Monument Society indicate only that on 21 March 1848 it was "resolved that previous to excavating the foundation the Board of Manager's shall designate the precise spot on which the Monument is to be erected and that a well be dug to ascertain at what depth the surest foundation can be had..." The spot turned out to be on the top of a small hill 371.6 feet east and 123.17 feet south of the location proposed for an equestrian monument to Washington by Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 plan and occupied since 1802 by the Jefferson Stone. This stone represented the intersection of an east-west line from the center of the Capitol and a north-south line from the center of the White House. While there has been considerable speculation, generally relating to foundation conditions (the site was on the edge of Tiber Creek), about why the society selected a location other than the one designated by L'Enfant no contemporary evidence has been found that explicitly states why this decision was made. We only know from accounts of the period that the monument's excavation was begun on 17 April and was completed by 16 May 1848. It was reported a few months later that, as specified, "A well was first dug some little distance, which indicated favorably" and that the site "is most appropriate and commanding." [3]

Shortly thereafter, the Agricultural Division of the Patent Office, the precursor of the Department of Agriculture, came into the picture. The division, which was established in 1839, subsequently sought land "on or near the Mall," for "the purpose of cultivating and propagating seeds and cuttings." On 23 May 1856, it was assigned five acres of "public space immediately north of the canal between Four and One-half and Sixth streets," formerly part of the marshy bank of the Tiber Creek. Two years later, following drainage and development work, these grounds—now occupied by part of the National Gallery of Art—were formally designated the Propagating Gardens, and greenhouses were built. [4]

The next phase was triggered by the establishment of the Department of Agriculture on 15 May 1862. The enabling legislation stated that the Commissioner of Agriculture "shall receive and have charge of all the property of the agricultural division of the Patent Office . . . including the fixtures and property of the propagating garden." Subsequent entreaties by Commissioner Isaac Newton for more land paid off on 7 April 1863, when Benjamin B. French, the Commissioner of Public Buildings, offered the use of Reservation No. 2 between Twelfth and Fourteenth streets for use "as an experimental garden for Agricultural purposes" (fig. 2). French stated that "no power but Congress can interfere with your use of it for public purposes, and I do not think that they will have any desire to do so." In 1867 responsibility for the administration of Washington's public grounds was transferred to the Chief of Engineers of the War Department, but their authority did not extend to the Agriculture Department's reservation. [5]

Fig. 2 The newly acquired grounds of the Department of Agriculture between 12th and 14th streets and North and South B streets on 13 August 1863, as photographed by Titian Ramsay Peale. The land was assigned to the Department on 7 April 1863, but was then part of the Washington Monument cattle yards and was not occupied by the Department until 5 April 1865. University of Rochester Library

The Department of Agriculture gained possession of Reservation No. 2 on 5 April 1865, following its use as a component of the Washington Monument cattle yard during the Civil War. Field trials, the first to be initiated by the fledgling department, were initiated on much of the land, but were largely discontinued by 1868. The first Department of Agriculture building (fig. 3), designed by Adolf Cluss, was begun on 2 August 1867, and was ready for occupancy on 1 September 1868. It was centered on Thirteenth Street, which because of the varied widths of the city's blocks (and hence the Mall's reservations), put it closer to Twelfth than Fourteenth Street, and set slightly back from the Smithsonian Institution's façade line. A conservatory was built on its west side, roughly on the same alignment. Several lesser buildings were later erected to the south of these structures. From 1867 to 1879, the grounds on the north and south of the building were landscaped into an attractive Victorian garden and arboretum, while several acres to its south continued to be cultivated. In 1873, when the Washington Canal was filled, the propagating garden was closed and exchanged for four acres formerly occupied by the canal along the north side of the department's grounds. [6]

Fig. 3 A somewhat fanciful depiction of the Department of Agriculture buildings and grounds. The main building was completed in 1868, the Conservatory on the right in 1870, and this portion of the grounds in 1871. Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the Year 1868, frontispiece.

Proposals during the next three decades for additional Department of Agriculture buildings proved futile and space problems became increasingly severe (there were five times as many employees in the Mall area in 1894 as there had been in 1871, an increase from 84 to 433), particularly in the case of chemistry laboratories. The department was given cabinet status on 9 February 1889, and the secretary's report for 1894 stated that "there is hardly a university or agricultural college in the United States which has not better constructed, better lighted, better ventilated laboratories than those used by the Department of Agriculture." In 1900, the department requested $200,000 from Congress to construct laboratory building's but had to resubmit the request in 1901 (fig. 4). [7]

Fig. 4 The Mall and the Department of Agriculture complex, foreground, in the summer of 1901, at the time the work of the Park Commission and the architectural competition for the new Department building were underway. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Washington, D.C., Washingtoniana Division (Neg. 154688).


On 2 March 1901, Congress approved $5,000 "to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to have prepared, under his direction, plans for a fireproof administrative building, to be erected on the ground's of the Department of Agriculture and to be transmitted to Congress at its next regular session." While no mention was made of the laboratory buildings that had been the focus of the department's requests, they were part of the subsequent package. A few days later, Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson was quoted as saying, "We want a handsome building— nothing too elaborate, but we want it to be good in all ways." He wanted it to be constructed of stone, and he favored a quadrangle with interior courtyards for light and air. Phased construction was foreseen, first the laboratory wings followed by the administration block. [8]

Wilson chose Supervising Architect of the Treasury James Knox Taylor as his expert advisor, a function Taylor often served for government buildings other than those directly under his control. Taylor established an architectural advisory group consisting of the members of the recently appointed Senate Park Commission: Daniel H. Burnham, Charles E. McKim, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It was probably Taylor who decided to hold an architectural competition, its design parameters laid out in a draft "Program and Conditions of a Competition for a Building for the Department." In commenting on the program on 13 June 1901, the Senate Park Commission members suggested that "the new building be built to the South and rear of the present building, in order to conform with the proposed avenue which will form part of the scheme upon which we are to report." They went on to say that "neither you nor we are in a position to determine exactly how far South" but they did think that the Thirteenth Street axis "should be recognized." The advisory group enclosed a list of ten architectural firms which should be invited to compete, preference being given to those "who have not already received a government contract." Eight of the firms had some association with either McKim or Burnham. [9]

Invitations were sent to the firms on 18 June. The "programme and conditions" for the building stated that the competition was to select an architect "for a design to be approved by Congress at the next session." The architect would then "prepare such design or designs as may in the judgment of the Supervising Architect . . . be necessary to meet the conditions finally adopted by him." The cost of the building was not to exceed $2 million, be of fireproof construction, and "classic in character." The laboratories "should be in wings away from the principal administrative and executive work." The architects were also forewarned that the building's actual location had not yet been determined. [10]

On 23 August, McKim, on behalf of the advisory group, sent Taylor "a block plan [not found], showing the proposed building line for the new building of the Department of Agriculture." The plot was "333 feet in mean width," which, given the building line on the north, would leave about 230 feet to the curb on B Street, SW. Allowing 15 feet for the sidewalk would leave about 215 feet for the building's width, "ample space" in McKim's view. The plot was long enough (1,050 feet) to allow for the construction of three buildings, including one large building in the center which would be the "Agriculture Building" (the disposition of the other two buildings is not clear). [11]

Competition entries were judged by the advisory group on 23 October 1901, and the contestants notified the next day. The submission by Lord & Hewlett of New York (fig. 5) was ranked first. Runners-up were Howell's & Stokes and P.J. Webber. Key members of all three firms had previously been associated with McKim or Burnham; Austin Lord had worked for McKim, Mead & White from 1890 to 1894. The Lord & Hewlett design was described in the 28 October Evening Star account as "being of white marble, four-stories in height, of adapted Greek design and with a decorated façade. . . . According to Secretary Wilson's plans it will stand somewhat south of its present location, with a wide plaza in front, and the [laboratory] wing at the westward will be constructed first. The department force now in the main building will then move into the wing and its present quarters—condemned frequently during the past ten years—will be razed." By 20 December the Evening Star carried a picture of the winning design and reported its cost at $2.5 million. The article noted the building would stand about 50 feet south of the existing structure and be about 400 feet long and 200 feet deep with laboratory wings flanking the central administration wing. Congressional reaction was "still uncertain." [12]

Fig. 5 The winning design in the architectural competition for the Department of Agriculture building by Lord & Hewlett of New York. The Inland Architect and News Record, December 1901. Photo courtesy of the American Institute of Architects Library and Archives, Washington, D.C.

Nebraska Congressman David H. Mercer, chairman of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, had introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on 18 December (H.7207) calling for the building "to be constructed in accordance with the approved plans," but limiting it's cost to $2 million, the amount specified in the invitation for the competition. With respect to location, Mercer's bill said only "on such portion of the ground of the Department of Agriculture [as the Secretary of Agriculture] may deem expedient." Secretary Wilson later noted that "after careful consultation with Messrs. Lord & Hewlett and with Mr. Taylor... it was decided that a building suitable for the Department would cost approximately $2,500,000." [13]


Meanwhile, the Senate Park Commission was completing its report to Congress, presented on 15 January 1902. The Mall was to be shifted to the south so as to align its central axis with the Washington Monument. With respect to buildings, the report stated that "areas adjoining B St. north and south, averaging more than four hundred feet in width... afford spacious sites for buildings devoted to scientific purposes and for the great museums." It further noted that "with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Supervising Architect consulted the commission at every stage in the selection of an architect for and the location of the new building for the Department of Agriculture." Moreover, "the structure to be erected for the Department of Agriculture on the site of the present building marks at once the building line and the type of architecture which should be adopted throughout the Mall system." Further, the Department of Agriculture, "being the nucleus of a great number of laboratories requiring a maximum of light and air, may properly have its new building located as present proposed, on the grounds in the Mall, now set apart for its uses." [14]

Although the Senate Park Commission had officially completed its original assignment, its individual members continued to work officially and unofficially to insure implementation of their plan. McKim consulted with Secretary of War Elihu Root (who had general control over public grounds and buildings) and Secretary Wilson, in part for his political wisdom and his prior experience as a member of the House of Representatives from Iowa in the 1870's. Wilson reportedly responded to McKim rather grandly that "the only thing I know about your plans is that, if they are not the finest ever made, the people of the Unites States will have none of them." Olmsted subsequently sent McKim a diagrammatic plan of the Mall, dated 5 October 1902 (fig. 6), "embodying the results of my study for the grades," as well as cross sections. He also suggested a meeting with the architects to "discuss this whole matter of grades and other rules governing the mass of the buildings," but nothing seems to have come of it. [15]

Fig. 6 Early schematic drawing of the proposed arrangement of the Mall in the area of the Department of Agriculture and the Smithsonian Institution by the Olmsted Brothers, 5 October 1902. Specifications show the proposed width of the Mall (890 feet between building lines) and existing and proposed grades. National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, (Job #2828, Plan 6).

Everything appeared set, except for one critical factor: the opposition of Illinois Congressman Joseph G. Cannon, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from December 1901 to July 1902 and Speaker of the House from November 1903 to 1911. As one of Cannon's biographers later wrote: "The experience in erecting the new building would have tested the composure of a saint." Cannon's opposition was not surprising. He "felt deeply about the prerogative of the House of Representatives to initiate appropriation measures." Cannon also was culturally conservative and repeatedly expressed "criticism of government expenditures for elaborate buildings" and "had expressed hostility toward any but the most spartan building plans." Funding of the Senate Park Commission by the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia usurped Cannon's authority, and the elaborate design for the Agriculture building violated his political and aesthetic principles. According to Glenn Brown, secretary of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), "Cannon said that he would rather see the Mall sown in oats than treated as an artistic composition." [16]

While the Senate Park Commission plan was never formally submitted for Congressional approval and hence did not give Cannon a direct target, the Department of Agriculture depended on Congressional authorization and appropriations. The Mercer bill of 1901 (H.7207) was submitted to the House Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds where it died. On 24 March 1902, Indiana Senator Charles W. Fairbanks, chairman of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds, introduced a similar bill (S.4722) which raised the authorized funding level to $2.5 million. On 10 June, the Senate Committee on Buildings and Grounds reported favorably on it, quoting Wilson's strategy: "the idea is to fix the limit of the cost and then to secure from time to time the amounts necessary to put up the building as a whole... the administrative features could be looked after next." The Senate approved the bill on 25 June. [17]

The Senate bill was referred to the House on 26 June, then sent to the House Committee on Buildings and Grounds. Twenty years later, B. T. Galloway, chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry, whom Wilson placed in charge of the building committee, wrote that at these House hearings, "it was indicated by members of the Committee that they favored buildings of nonclassic type . . . [and] thought that for the utilization of terra-cotta and brick construction, $1,500,000 would be adequate." Galloway added that this attitude "was in part due to some opposition to broad plans for the Development of Washington," recommended by the Senate Park Commission. On 16 December 1902, Wilson wrote that the House "[has] reduced our appropriation for a building to $1,500,000. I expect to have it put back in the Senate. I am going to have a good building, or none at all." Two days later, the House Committee on Buildings and Grounds reported the bill out with two significant amendments, the addition of the phrase "immediately to the rear of the present building" concerning its location and the reduction of the authorization to $1.5 million. [18]


On 22 January 1903, Secretary Wilson wrote Speaker of the House David Henderson of Iowa stating that if the bill were to be passed, "we would ask $400,000 to begin the work" and that "it would be many years before the full amount would be necessary." The Speaker replied, "I have consulted with friends and we have agreed to get the bill up if possible, provided, however, that certain amendments which I have submitted to Chairman Mercer be adopted in order to make certain the limit shall not go over a million and a half dollars." Henderson added a handwritten postscript. "It will be impossible to increase the limit. Efforts in that direction may be fatal. Guard the Senate against that." [19]

The only time Congressman Cannon's views were publicly recorded was during the debate on the House floor on 24 January 1903:

It seems that it is contemplated to erect a building down here on the Mall to house the Department of Agriculture. It ought to be done. That is a valuable Department—subject to some abuses as all departments; but it ought to be housed properly. It is carrying on it's business now largely in rented buildings. The proposition is made on the part of the House to spend a million and a half dollars to house that Department—quite enough, as we already have the site.

Cannon went on to note that he had received several letters from state agricultural experiment stations protesting the reduced authorization level of $1.5 million (Wilson had evidently mustered the troops) but none from "any man who follows the plow or works upon the farm." Cannon concluded that "of course, we shall appropriate twice that amount, if necessary, but 'enough is as good as a feast.'" [20]

When the bill came up on the floor on 2 February 1903, Mercer moved to suspend the rules and pass S.4722 as amended by the committee. However, the bill as read was different from the committee bill. The three most significant changes were: (1) the addition of the phrase "including all of its bureaus and officers now occupying rented quarters in the District of Columbia;" (2) the committee's wording on location "in the rear of the present building" was changed to "in the vicinity;" and, (3) the phrase "the approval of plans heretofore secured in pursuance of the provisions of the Act of Congress" was replaced with a more general reference to "plans to be procured." Even under individual suspension, changing the language of a committee bill before it is introduced on the floor is most unusual. In any case, this strategy worked, and on 9 February the bill to erect the new Agriculture building became law. Three months later Galloway wrote that "As a matter of fact... and as a matter that is not recorded, the Committee of the House did not want to consider this plan [the Lord & Hewlett design] at all, and this was the chief reason why an entire new bill was drafted." We shall probably never know either the full story of this rather obscure parliamentary maneuver, nor how widespread was congressional opposition to the Senate Park Commission's proposals, but both had significant implications for what was to follow, particularly with respect to relation's with the architects. [21]

Passage of the authorization bill set in process several concurrent aspects of the design and construction phase. Within the Department of Agriculture two principal steps were taken: establishment of the Building Committee and placement of construction under the Army Corps of Engineers. Galloway chaired the Building Committee, its other members being D. E. Salmon, chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry, and A. C. True, director of the Office of Experiment Stations. Capt. John S. Sewell, who was placed in charge of general construction work on 2 May, had overseen the erection of the new Government Printing Office and the War College. At the express wish of Congress, Army engineers had been in charge of constructing Washington's public buildings beginning in 1867. Sewell's contributions proved to be a bone of contention when it came time for calculating the architects' fees. [22]

Lord & Hewlett sat out 1902 while the authorization and appropriation process was underway. Because the funding for the proposed building had been cut from $2.5 million to $1.5 million, some significant changes in their design would seem to be necessary. But the process did not proceed quite in the order one might expect. Fragmentary contemporary documents and Galloway's account written twenty years later leave some unanswered questions, but it is clear that the relationship between the architects and the department was not harmonious and that there were significant gaps in communication. Some of the problems dated back to the winning design. In Galloway's view:

They submitted a really beautiful design but not at all adapted for laboratory purposes. We endeavored to bring the architects to our point of view and to the need for laboratory facilities and for the kind of light and space generally required for this kind of science. In this effect we were not successful. After several months of discussion and negotiation there developed in the minds of our building committee the germ of an idea for a series of buildings all eventually to be connected and forming one more or less harmonious whole. [23]

On 17 February 1903, Lord & Hewlett were sent a letter outlining space needs, followed by a second letter two months later that contained two scenarios proposed by the Building Committee. The first suggestion was for "three buildings to be established with the funds at hand and other buildings to be erected when additional funds are available." This plan called for placing the administrative building and two flanking laboratories immediately to the rear of Cluss's building. The space between the old and new buildings would be limited, adversely affecting light and ventilation and would also necessitate demolishing several other structures. Hence the committee viewed this solution as "not practicable." [24]

The Building Committee's second proposal led to considerable controversy. It called for placing a new building of the same configuration "directly in front of the old structure, about forty feet from it." This arrangement would allow "ample space for five additional buildings." The proposal met "the hearty approval of the Secretary." Galloway's letter of 17 March to the architects went on to say that "we offer no suggestions in regard to the so-called boulevard or parkway, believing that this is a matter which does not really need serious attention at the present time." He also stated, incorrectly, that the proposed building placement of the second proposal would be in line with the Smithsonian. No written response from Lord & Hewlett survives, but Galloway remembered their reaction. "Mr. Hewlett, was not only cold but actually hostile to our suggestions. Mr. Hewlett seemed firmly convinced that we should erect one classical building. . . . When I showed Mr. Hewlett the squares and blocks representing our ground plan and their connections he rather sarcastically remarked that the sketches looked more like a 'school of fish' than anything else." [25]

Moreover, when the architects visited the department on 13 April, as Galloway recalled in his testimony when the case went to court in 1908, they "were in doubt as to what could be done with the $1,500,000." They suggested that "it might be well to start the building on a $2,500,000 proposition, with the idea of securing additional funds at forthcoming sessions." While this was a variant of what Wilson had proposed to Congress in January 1902, the secretary did not react well to it and told Galloway to fire the architects and relieve James Knox Taylor of his advisory duties. The day following this meeting, Lord and Hewlett—who were evidently unaware of the Secretary's attitude—wrote Galloway: "We are sending herewith a block plan embodying as far as possible the general scheme of arrangement which we understood at our conference on Monday you propose to submit to the Secretary of Agriculture for his approval." They also suggested that they prepare detailed drawings and specifications to get cost estimates to determine "how many sections . . . can be undertaken within the limits of the present appropriation and which [can be] deferred until further appropriations can be obtained. . . . At your suggestion we have indicated in dotted lines a scheme of possible enlargement for the future, which would place the Administration Building in the center of the entire group of buildings." The architects went on to state that "we feel very strongly that the establishment of a main axis at any point but the center of the lot and the erection of buildings on the north [side of the Mall] would be a grave mistake." [26]

Meanwhile, Galloway followed Wilson's instructions and wrote the architects on 15 April (their letters must have crossed in the mail) that "I am directed by The Honorable Secretary of Agriculture to inform you that it appears from the statement made by you and Mr. Taylor... that there seems to be some doubt as to his [the secretary's] ability to carry out the spirit and letter of the law with respect to the proposed buildings for this department . . . [and] he wishes to terminate present relations." The architects were understandably puzzled by this turn of events, writing on 17 April that they understood "the purpose of our recent conference was merely to determine the most advisable method of procedure." They requested an interview. Evidently things then cooled down a bit and following further legal consultations in the department, a contract was forwarded to Lord & Hewlett on 11 May. However, it set the architects' fee at 3.5 percent, not the 5 percent established by the AIA as its members' fee. From the department's end, the lower figure was justified because Capt. Sewell was providing some of the services normally provided by private architects. This was not acceptable to Lord & Hewlett, and on 12 May they declined to sign the contract. Wilson wrote them that he would "look elsewhere for assistance in this matter." Lord & Hewlett wrote the Senate Park Commission members, the AIA, and others. In 1908, they took their grievance to the Court of Claims, lost, appealed to the Supreme Court in 1909, and again lost. [27]

The Building Committee's alternative sites outlined in Galloway's 7 March 1903 letter to Lord & Hewlett initiated a lengthy correspondence that "grew increasingly more vehement." On 19 June 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote Wilson:

From some comments which Mr. Galloway and other members of the Committee who are to deal with the new Agricultural Building are reported to have made, I feel that my entire trust in them from a scientific standpoint hardly extends to an equally unquestioning acceptance of their views on architecture. Please have Mr. Burnham. . . consulted before any plans are made and submit them to me with his remarks before anything definite is decided upon.

Wilson responded on 14 July that the "question of the improvement of the Mall has been brought into the controversy, but this has at no time had any particular bearing on the case as I prefer not to consider the location of the buildings until something definite as to their nature should be at hand." [28]

The location of the Agriculture Building coincided with a discussion about where to place the proposed Hall of Records. Senate Park Commission chairman Burnham wrote Secretary of the Treasury Leslie M. Shaw on 24 July 1903, pointing out that "if one of these building's be now erected upon the Mall but not upon its true axis, then the state of disorder will have been made permanent." He concluded his letter: "Must the Agricultural Building go on without reference to any future plan?" Shaw evidently showed the letter to Roosevelt, who wrote Wilson on 28 July asking, "will you look over the enclosed? I wish you would get into touch with Mr. Burnham in the matter. I am very reluctant to spoil Washington's plan." [29]

Wilson, who seemingly hadn't followed the president's earlier advice to consult with Burnham, rather angerly wrote to Burnham asking, "to what axis [do] you have reference?.... We have not come to the location of the building and will not for several months." On 5 August, Burnham replied with "a soft answer," enclosing a copy of the Senate Park Commission's plan. Burnham later elaborated:

I sent a beautiful map of the Mall to Secretary Wilson and one to the President. These had movable facings of tissue paper on which strong red lines indicated the east and west axis of the buildings beside the Avenue, thus explaining to the Secretary the meaning of "its true axis." These drawings are about two feet by two feet six inches and will make things clear to the President and his Cabinet. [30]

These drawings are not known to have survived, but Wilson's query had some validity. Was the Mall's "true axis" L'Enfant's or the Senate Park Commission's?

During the summer of 1903, the Department of Agriculture negotiated with the Philadelphia firm of Rankin, Kellogg & Crane. The outcome was reported to Roosevelt on 21 September:

A number of architects were consulted after this, but all positively refused to take action as long as there was any question as to Lord & Hewlett's connection with the matter. Rankin and Kellogg came into the work from the fact that Capt. Sewell, and others of the Committee, knew them to be good architects and that they were engaged upon important government projects and were giving perfect satisfaction.

Four days later Wilson wrote Roosevelt explaining that "Mr. Kellogg had been associated with Mr. McKim and would be fully in sympathy with his views with reference to the beautification of Washington." Thomas M. Kellogg was born and raised in Washington and worked in the McKim, Mead, & White office from 1884-1891. [31]

The siting of the buildings was an ongoing point of discussion. Enclosing a draft contract, Galloway wrote Rankin, Kellogg & Crane on 14 August:

One other consideration with the Secretary that is highly important, is that, after a full conference with the Secretary, we believe the wisest plan will probably be to consider the space north of the boulevard [the Mall's central greensward] rather than south of it. We have nearly 500 feet in this space for the building, whereas south of the line we have only a little over 275 feet, according to the latest measurements, which I think now are certainly correct. By going on the north side of the line we are following in the steps of the Smithsonian people, who are putting their building there [the present Museum of Natural History]. I think this will be a satisfactory solution of the whole proposition, and will not put us to any extra expense in the matter of tearing down present structures.

There were no real impediments to placing the new building on the wider north side of the Mall, which was only occupied by some wetlands then laid out as ornamental gardens and ponds. [32]

In any case, the Building Committee provided "full and detailed statements with reference to the various requirements of the Department," and Rankin, Kellogg & Crane set to work developing block and building plans. On 5 September the firm provided drawings of a proposed block plan (fig. 7) consisting of a series of buildings connected by pavilions, which Acting Secretary Bingham reported to the president conformed "fully to the scheme for beautifying the Mall." An article in the Evening Star on 23 September commented on the concept of a series of buildings, noting that the "day of a single Agriculture Department building has passed." This was followed by an editorial expressing concern about the implications of the loss of park space due to the expansion of such a structure. [33]

Fig. 7 Block Plan for the Department of Agriculture building complex by Rankin, Kellogg & Crane, 5 September 1903, to be located on the north side of the Mall. Provision is made for up to nine laboratory buildings and an administration building. Like the old Administration Building (circled) the three new buildings would be centered on 13th street. National Archives, RG 16, Series 167.

A month later the architects were told to "proceed at once with the preparation of sketch plans for the executive building and laboratories 'A' and 'B'," followed by a request to "bring the buildings as near the north line of the parkway as the scheme will permit." Galloway asked that they "Prepare for us a sketch showing our grounds with the Parkway scheme running through them, inserting in the north lot, in accordance with our plans, the buildings which you have already laid out and a sketch of which you have submitted to us. This will enable us to present to the Secretary definitely the location of the buildings with respect to the park improvement scheme. The Secretary will undoubtedly want to lay the matter before the President." [34]

A note from the architects accompanying eight preliminary drawings delivered on 10 November confirmed that three buildings would be constructed initially, and that they would accommodate "all of those Bureaus and Divisions which are now paying rent." Two days later, Galloway wrote the firm: "I went over the plans with the Secretary, who seemed very satisfied with them. I also brought up the question as to the advisability of abandoning at present the erection of the administration building, confining our efforts to the three laboratory buildings. The Secretary expressed the opinion that probably this would be the best line of action." [35]

The Building Committee met on 24 November and formally approved the building's location on the north side of the Mall, its organization into three wings, and its design features. However, "in view of the tentative estimates obtained, it does not seem feasible, at this time, to erect two laboratory buildings and an administration building, but that three laboratory buildings may be completed for the amount authorized by Congress." These recommendations were approved by Wilson and forwarded to the architects on 25 November. They in turn requested "a chart showing the exact location of the axis line . . . and the definite width to allow for the proposed mall." They also inquired whether the laboratory buildings were to be oriented toward the Mall or Twelfth Street, NW; this issue was evidently not resolved for it came up later. On 18 December Galloway indicated that the preliminary sketches for the laboratory buildings had been approved. [36]

Rankin, Kellogg & Crane's plans made the newspapers, first in the Evening Star on 9 December and in greater detail in the Washington Times on 13 December. Wilson was quoted as saying that "the Department of Agriculture is different in its requirements, so far as buildings are concerned, from other branches of government. Our work is largely of a research nature. Laboratories, therefore, are essential and form a considerable portion of the room required." The article noted that the boulevard at the center of the Mall, "800 feet wide," would sweep right past the buildings. [37]


At the beginning of 1904, after the considerable tumult of previous years, it appeared that everything had been worked our: the Agriculture Department building's location on the Mall's north side complied with the Senate Park Commission's plans, while it also met the department's needs. But it was not to be. On 14 September 1903 the late Senator McMillan's secretary, Charles Moore, wrote McKim that "I fear [Cannon] is going to make all possible trouble in mean little ways." Trouble soon arrived and it was not minor. On 13 January 1904, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture, which heretofore had not been heard from, visited the department. Galloway reported to Rankin the next day that "they were of the opinion that the buildings could be put up in front of our present structure, which, of course, would bring up the whole question again of interference with the parkway plans." They also felt that "the buildings cannot be made as attractive on the north lot as they could if placed where the present buildings stand." Galloway pointed out that buildings on the Mall's south side could not comply with the section of the authorization bill requiring that all staff in rented facilities be accommodated in the new building. The costs of removing the old structures and providing interim quarters would leave only enough money to erect two laboratory buildings. [38]

The stakes were raised when the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, New York Representative James W. Wadsworth, met with Roosevelt on 27 January. Wadsworth, according to a newspaper account, vowed that his committee was "unalterably opposed" to the north Mall site. "This will set the building in a veritable hollow where it will make no showing in the world." Wadsworth not only wanted the building "near" the existing building, but also wanted the Mall's greensward narrowed from 800 feet to 600 feet. Glenn Brown of the AIA alerted McKim who contacted Roosevelt, Root, and the Speaker of the House but "nothing positive was accomplished." [39]

Wadsworth and eleven (possibly all sixteen) House Agriculture Committee members—a remarkable display of interest in civic planning—met with the president on 5 February. Galloway reported that "the question hinged on whether a Parkway 800 feet in width should be reserved ... or whether this should be reduced to 600 feet in order to properly accommodate the Department of Agriculture buildings and to retain the Smithsonian Institution building." When Roosevelt asked the assembled committee members if they favored the 600-foot-wide Mall they unanimously assented. The president thereupon replied that the matter should stand in that way, and the Secretary of Agriculture issued instructions at once that "we proceed with the plans on the basis that the buildings would be erected in conformity with the 600-foot proposition." [40]

Accordingly, Galloway wrote Rankin, Kellogg & Crane on 6 February, reporting that "we will build right up to the 600 foot line [on the Mall's south side], so as not to necessitate tearing down or moving the present statistical building." The architects responded with "we regret very much that it has been decided to do this, and we believe that a very great mistake is being made that will adversely affect not only the Agricultural buildings, but the plans for a monumental Washington and that this will become more and more apparent as time passed." Rankin, Kellogg & Crane wrote McKim on 9 February that they had designed the buildings for the Mall's south side "located as we think that they should be, preserving the full width of the Mall. This is now being rendered by Prof. [Paul] Cret and will be finished tomorrow." In subsequent correspondence with Galloway, the architects reaffirmed their regret at the decision, especially as "this ground [on the Mall's north side] might be so easily reclaimed and when the buildings, if located there, could readily and would unquestionably be raised to a proper height." They also stated that "it appears impossible to obtain nearly as good a result either politically or artistically, on the south location." [41]

Roosevelt's meeting with the House Agriculture Committee prompted McKim to action. He wrote the president on 10 February, requesting further review of the parkway's width but acknowledged that "perhaps you deem it best to avoid a formal hearing." Roosevelt responded the next day that the "House Committee was a unit in favor of reducing the width below 600 feet and accepted 600 feet as a compromise. The architects of the Commission should appear at once before a Senate committee." A week later McKim wrote the other Senate Park Commission members as well as Brown and Moore about Roosevelt's letter. He glumly remarked that it "confirms statement's made in the newspapers that he had already given such consent." On 11 February, McKim had written Olmsted, commenting that the real purpose of the House committee's demand was to "build their group of new buildings upon their present site." [42]

On the first of March McKim met with Nevada Senator Francis G. Newlands, who had shown some sympathy to his cause. However, New Hampshire Senator Jacob H. Gallinger (who became chairman of the District Committee after McMillan's sudden death on 10 August 1902) said his committee thought that 600 feet was "wide enough for anything." Newlands insisted on a hearing and Gallinger gave in. Newlands also introduced a short bill (S.4845)—which McKim claimed he helped draw up—on 7 March that stated "no building shall be erected on the Mall of Washington, District of Columbia, within four hundred feet of a central line stretching from the center of the Dome of the Capitol to the center of the Washington Monument." [43]

The bill was discussed on the Senate floor on 8 March, with Newlands vigorously supporting the Senate Park Commission's position. Wilson wrote him a day later, pointing out that the 800-foot line would, because of the southern tilt of the Mall's west end, run "at least 100 feet south of the present Agricultural building, leaving only about 200 feet of building space.... While it was said that the Department was proposing to erect the new building in front of the existing structure, this is a mistake. Our new buildings will go back of the present structure and will be further south than the Smithsonian Institution." This statement did not provide much support for the Newlands bill, but given the House Committee's view, Wilson probably saw little choice. [44]

Newlands's bill and his correspondence with Wilson referred to an 800-foot-wide parkway in the Mall's center. Yet Olmsted's schematic drawing of the Mall, dated 5 October 1902 (see fig, 6), placed its width as 890 feet, and in a letter written on 1 March 1904 he referred to a similar distance. This discrepancy was to pose an unnecessary point of confusion in the Senate hearing. The Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, with Gallinger presiding, held its hearing on 12 March. The primary issue was the width of the building line; the location of the Agriculture buildings on the north or south side of the Mall was of secondary importance. The hearing was well attended, including eight senators, the Senate Park Commission members, and leaders of the AIA. Wilson did not participate, but was represented by Galloway. [45]

Galloway testified that on the basis of a 600-foot-wide parkway, its center aligned with the Washington Monument, 350 feet would be left on the Mall's south side for the Agriculture Department buildings. If, on the other hand, the Mall's central line ran straight west from the Capitol, "our lot would be about 450 feet which would serve every purpose." In both cases, the buildings were to be centered on Thirteenth Street. He argued that laboratory work made it "absolutely essential to cut off certain sections of the building," precluding a single monumental structure. Galloway acknowledged that the architects he had talked to preferred the north side, and that plans had been made for both locations. While he was concerned with the low-lying site on the Mall's north side, Galloway conceded that none of the architects felt it to be a problem. [46]

Concerns of a more mundane and previously unrecorded nature emerged in Galloway's testimony. Wilson, it seems, was hesitant to build on the north side because he wanted to keep it as a natural park area. The Agriculture Department was also now fearful that buildings on the north side "would be set up against a lot of lumber yards and things of that nature" and "we would be within a stones throw of not only houses of ill repute but of the old power house and lumber yard and all the rattle traps of the day." Galloway asserted: "That is the thing that brought the matter more clearly to the attention of the members of Congress than anything else, and that is all." One wonders. Burnham, ever the visionary, commented that the north Mall site "being available, is sure at no distant date to be covered with noble buildings. We say that the government is going to need that and ever more ground." The question of the actual proposed width of the central greensward surfaced, perhaps unconsciously, in Newlands's questioning of Gallinger, when he referred to a vista of 890 feet. It was not clarified until Burnham's testimony. Newlands, evidently reading from a display map, referred to 890 feet for the first time (fig. 8). West Virginia Senator Nathan Scott tried to get this sorted out: "Eight hundred and ninety feet?" Mr. Burnham: "Yes sir." Senator Newlands: "Mr. Chairman I will state that I find I have made a mistake in stating that as 800 feet in the bill. I supposed that was the width called for." [47]

Fig. 8 Cross section of the Mall, showing proposed dimensions, including an 890-foot building line. May have been used in the Senate hearing on the Mall, 2 March 1904. Published in the Boston Herald, 14 March 1904, National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (Job #2828, Plan 26).

Newlands also asked, according to Burnham, "if the building could not go somewhere else, and I said certainly we can." Rhode Island Senator George Peabody Wetmore perceptively asked Galloway: "Why should you not condemn some land back of where you plan to put the buildings on the south side?" Galloway responded that "The policy of the government is against it," although it is not certain that this was the case. Joseph C. Hornblower architect of the Smithsonian Institution's new National Museum (now the Museum of Natural History), commented that if a building were located on the Mall's south side, he saw "no reason why it should not extend across B St., which is a street of unimportant character." Samuel P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, noted that the 600-foot line passed through the rear of the original Smithsonian Institution, while the 800-foot line fell to its south. Wetmore wondered if it might be possible to move the building. Langley responded: "That is rather a question for an engineer, but my own impression is that either that can be moved to the south or that even the monument can be moved, if the gentleman will allow me that question. [Laughter.]" Burnham later commented, with respect to the Smithsonian, "It can be moved. We frankly confess that our scheme would result in moving back the Smithsonian Institution so far as it now projects into the composition... it ought not to stand in the way of a grand improvement." [48]

On the same day as the hearing, and presumably as a result of it, Roosevelt wrote Wilson (unaware of the error between 800 and 890 feet), "I am having great trouble about that Mall. The best architects and artists and most cultivated people I know feel that it is an outrage to encroach on the 800 feet. I very earnestly wish that under my administration we could refrain from such encroachment." The Senate Parkway Hearings were reported in Washington papers on 12 and 13 March and in the Boston Herald on 14 March, illustrated by four engravings. McKim wrote Nicholas Butler (president of Columbia University) on 14 March that "as a result (and a most unexpected one) . . . the Senate Committee rendered a unanimous report, signed by all the members, including Sen. Gallinger, favoring adherence to the plan as reported by the Park Commission, calling not for 800 but 890 feet in width between buildings! It now remains to go before the House Committee." [49]

In legislative terms, the Newlands bill, with the distance from the Mall's adjusted centerline to building facçades amended to 445 feet, came up on the Senate floor on 30 March and was passed. A similar bill had been introduced in the House on 14 March (H. 13926) but was superseded by House consideration of the Senate bill (S. 4845). It was referred to the House Committee on Buildings and Grounds where, McKim wrote Root on 18 March, "It is very much feared that it may remain there without action." The AIA mounted a massive campaign in support of the Newlands bill, but to no avail as far as the House of Representatives was concerned. [50]

The Senate parkway hearings may have clarified the desired Mall width, but they left the Department of Agriculture with unanswered concerns. Galloway explained the department's dilemma to Kellogg on 14 March:

I do not believe that the House will ever pass a bill committing the Government to the Parkway scheme. [On one hand] with all the members of the House Committee [on Agriculture] on record as unalterably opposed to the north location of our buildings, we are, it seems, liable to have our opportunities for growth weakened, if we decide to go in the face of this sentiment. On the other hand, if we take the other tack and locate our buildings without reference to the Parkway scheme, we will undoubtedly have an influential body of men opposing us. [51]

Even so, the Building Committee began to make plans to build on the Mall's south side. On 11 March, the day before the Senate parkway hearings, the Building Committee considered "the revised block plan [submitted by the architects] with new buildings grouped on the site south of the contemplated Parkway." On 19 March, they agreed to place the buildings on the Mall's south side facing north, with the front of the administration building on a line 445 feet south of the parkway axis, and to retain the design of its front. They further agreed to center the buildings on Thirteenth Street and extend the laboratory wings as far as B Street, SW. [52]

The Building Committee sent these revisions to Rankin, Kellogg & Crane the same day and broached the question of future expansion. "One other matter we have considered and which is, of course vital in this connection, is the securing of property at some future date across from B Street, SW. There are two squares that are easily available." On 2 April 1904 Galloway wrote the architects that "we must be prepared to either make [our current design] complete . . . or to prepare plans with the idea that the buildings will be extended at some day across B St." Some block plans and drawings of the period show the core group of buildings originally designed for the Mall's north side simply moved to the south side, crossing B Street, SW (figs. 9, 10). The Building Committee and architects also realized that by aligning the building with the tilted Mall axis as proposed by the Senate Park Commission, its sides would not be parallel with Twelfth and Fourteenth streets, which "would throw the west wing so far out as to project into South B St." [53]

Fig. 9 Block plan for relocating the Department of Agriculture building on the south side of the Mall. Further construction would have required either bridging or blocking B St. National Archives, RG 16, Series 167.

Fig. 10 Artistic depiction of the Department of Agriculture building on the south side of the Mall from a larger montage by H. M. Petit, presumably drawn in 1904, and published in Woman's Home Companion, February 1905 (see pl. XIV). The drawing is remarkably accurate in terms of the revised plans, but does differ in its depiction of the length of the front wings and the arrangement of the side wings. It also includes a domed structure at the center of the south side, which was not included in plans of the time, though space was left for it (see figs. 7, 9).

The House Agriculture Committee remained adamant about a 600-foot-wide parkway, ostensibly to preserve the Smithsonian Institution. On 22 April, Wadsworth again met with Roosevelt, raising the committee's objection to a location on the Mall's north side even though the Agriculture Department had decided to go to the south side over a month earlier. He told the president that the Senate bill for an 890-foot-wide parkway would never get through the House, which was hardly news. His committee also wished to preserve the Mall's existing natural park appearance, and reported that Wilson agreed with the Agriculture Committee. The Evening Star reported that "Under such conditions the President is not pleased." Wadsworth invited Roosevelt to visit the site and see the situation for himself. The architects, however, wrote Olmsted that "We have not received the slightest intimation that any change is contemplated in location, but, on the contrary the officials . . . appear to consider the matter definitely settled." All of this may have left some understandable confusion about the Agriculture Department's intentions. [54]

On 7 May the Washington Post reported that "President Roosevelt personally inspected the site of the proposed new building of the Department of Agriculture and decided that the location of that structure should conform to the Parkway scheme for the improvement of the Mall." The 890-foot clearance was maintained. A few weeks later Roosevelt wrote Butler that "this year I have forced the erection of the new buildings of the Agricultural Department, in accordance with the... McMillan plan, preserving the... Mall. Congress did not do it. I did it." Though not overly modest, nor the whole story, there is considerable truth to Roosevelt's boast. Rankin, Kellogg & Crane's plans were completed in August 1904 (fig. 11) and reviewed by the Building Committee on the nineteenth, with advertisements for proposals appearing the same day; the contract was awarded on 14 December, with groundbreaking held a few days later. [55]

Fig. 11 Revised plan for the Department of Agriculture building as relocated on the south side of the Mall, ca. April 1904. The wings were built as shown, but the building base was lowered and the first floor became a partial basement. The central administration building, in a lighter tone, was not constructed until the late 1920s and the dome was eliminated. The design of the connecting walkways between the central building and the wings was also modified. Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1903, frontispiece.


The year started, by past standards, rather quietly; that is, no problems arose in January, and excavation got well under way. Early in the year, a full-sized plaster mock-up of a vertical slice of the front of the east laboratory wing was erected (frontispiece). But on 25 February, the contractor was ordered to stop work. [56]

Plaster mock-up of the design of front of east wing of the Department of Agriculture building, April 1905. Author's collection.

On 16 February Bernard Green, a civilian employee of the Corps of Engineers in charge of constructing the Smithsonian's new National Museum and superintendent of construction at the Library of Congress, had written Sewell, who was still in charge of construction of the Agriculture Department Building. In his letter, Green reported that as part of some joint consultations about the proper grade line "for buildings on the north side of the Mall as affected by the new Museum," McKim had been "considering the grade line at the site of the Agricultural building." On the same day, Kellogg met McKim in New York about the height of the base of the Agriculture building. At the same meeting, McKim "expressed great disappointment that the new buildings have been laid out to center on 13th Street instead of being equidistant from 12th and 14th." The next day, Rankin, Kellogg & Crane wrote Galloway that McKim expressed "great concern" about the difference in level of the National Museum and Agriculture Department buildings. [57]

The key players met in Rankin, Kellogg & Crane's Philadelphia offices on 23 February. McKim requested that the elevation of the Agriculture building be reduced by seven or ten feet "in order that the base line might conform more nearly to that of future adjoining buildings" and that the Agriculture complex be centered between Twelfth and Fourteenth streets. Rankin, Kellogg & Crane agreed and specifically recommended that the buildings be lowered and moved approximately 106 feet to the west. McKim also said that he had recently met with Speaker Cannon "who had withdrawn his opposition to the plans of the Park Commission and had announced that he would favor the appointment of a permanent commission to carry out the work." [58]

A quarter century later Glenn Brown recalled that the "engineer in charge, with the approval of Secretary Wilson, [1] set the building about a hundred feet farther east and [2] fixed its ground line some eight feet higher than the Park Commission indicated." Brown joined McKim on the site and remembered that "the point that disturbed McKim most was the intention to raise the ground level, which would throw the base of this building above the base of the Washington Monument." This would have negated "one of the most important elements in the Mall plan [which] is the continuous upgrade from the Grant Statue to the Washington Monument." [59]

Contemporary documents raise questions about both aspects of Brown's account. In the first case, the proposed buildings had been centered on Thirteenth Street from the outset (as noted, for instance, in correspondence from McKim on 13 June 1901). This placement had also been clearly stated by Galloway in the Senate hearing on 12 March 1904. McKim was involved in both events but evidently either did not recall this detail or changed his mind (the Park Commission drawings of 1901-2 placed generic sets of buildings equidistant between Twelfth and Fourteenth streets). The second item concerning height is more perplexing. Olmsted's drawing dated 5 October 1902, entitled "Tentative Plans for Grades" recorded both actual elevations and proposed new grades. The Agriculture Department's sites for both the old and new buildings were the highest on the Mall at about 35.8 feet, but the "tentative grade" projected for the new building just behind the old Agriculture building was 30 feet (see fig. 6). Thus it appears that the existing site would have to be lowered nearly 6 feet to conform with the commission's wishes, and perhaps the real question was whether the department was planning to do this. Curiously, no references have been found revealing the Senate Park Commission's views on the height for Mall buildings, although the same group (except Olmsted) had established a cornice line of 60 feet for buildings erected at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago; the issue was also raised later with McKim. [60]

Members of the Building Committee learned at their 6 March 1905 meeting that implementing the changes suggested by the Senate Park Commission would cost $36,000, but they were disposed to follow the recommendations. This may not have been entirely altruistic. The committee thought that if they conformed with the commission's ideas, the latter would help them secure additional buildings and the property south of B Street, SW. On a more practical level, Capt. Sewell pointed out that lowering the buildings would "make available a much better bearing soil for the footings," thus reducing the net cost increase to only $6,000, down from $36,000. But with a look over their shoulder towards Congress, the Building Committee decided they needed clearance for the expenditure. [61]

On 7 March they wrote Wilson that "it would be wise and justifiable to make the change proposed by the architects, reserving the exact change in location for future determination, though, it seems, from an engineering point of view 10 feet would be better than 7 feet ... Should the Secretary of Agriculture feel that some official sanction of the Park Commission plans is necessary to justify the proposed changes, it is respectfully suggested that higher authority be consulted." The Building Committee then unfairly chastised the architects for not having "fully considered all conditions at the time the present location of the buildings was decided on." On 8 March the committee wrote the architects that the "Secretary has fully discussed the question with the Cabinet and the President and the general consensus... is that the Secretary would not be warranted in involving the Department in the additional expense." [62]

Rankin, Kellogg & Crane forwarded the letter to McKim, stating that "when we saw Dr. Galloway in Washington some days ago, he did not seem disposed to oppose the suggested changes." McKim wrote Burnham and contacted Secretary of War William Howard Taft who spoke with Roosevelt. At McKim's memorial service in 1909, Taft, who was then president, recalled that Roosevelt "at once agreed that we ought to change [the Agriculture building's height and location]. 'But,' said he, 'the trouble is with Uncle Jimmy [Cannon] who has a real cause of complaint. He says these architects have delayed too long and the public money cannot be wasted and expended in this way.'" [63]

Taft, McKim, Wilson, Sewell, and Green met with Roosevelt at the White House on 13 March and ritually flogged the architects. Glenn Brown (who did not attend the meeting) later reported that Roosevelt asked Wilson to give way to the architects and he agreed. After the meeting, Taft reported in 1909, "McKim and I walked up the steps of the War Department. I said, 'Mr. McKim, I congratulate you on your victory!' He turned and looked at me for a moment, and said, 'Was it a victory? Another such and I am dead.'" The following day Roosevelt issued an Executive Order "appointing a Consultative Board of Architects to secure uniformity and harmony in the public buildings hereafter to be constructed." Green was appointed its chairman with McKim, Burnham, Olmsted, and Saint Gaudens the board's invited members. Green and McKim corresponded and agreed that the buildings should be equidistant between the street building lines and that they should be lowered 10 feet "in order to insure the best future grade for this and the future buildings along the south side of the Mall in consideration of the grade of the base of the Washington Monument." [64]

When the Building Committee met on 21 March, Green reported, "Mr. Kellogg hated very much to put his building, even temporarily, in the depression. I think I consoled him . . . by the statement that it could hardly be very long before the ground about the building would be properly graded down." In the meeting minutes Kellogg called it a "hole without a base." Evidently a diplomat, Green told Kellogg that "such a building in a hole would make the hole respectable." He also stated that "while the papers might criticize the location, if the building were lowered 10 feet...thoughtful men would know that the buildings were lowered with some object in view in accordance with a general scheme." Green estimated the costs of lowering the grounds at $70,000, noting that the soil could be used for fill on the north side of the grounds. [65]

A few more issues came up in early April. One was the old question of how aligning the building with the tilted Mall would affect its alignment with Twelfth and Fourteenth streets. Sewell wrote McKim that "it is expected ultimately to extend the Agricultural Buildings until the total depth from north to south will probably be as much as 500 or 600 feet," and that this deviation "would become increasingly unpleasantly apparent." Interestingly, McKim said that he would "unhesitatingly advise that the wings be made parallel with 12th and 14th Sts.," agreeing that the deviation would be "immediately observable and disturbing to the eye." His advice does not seem to have been followed. [66]

With final attention devoted to details such as these, the debate about the building line and placement essentially came to an end. Ironically, about the only aspect of the project that did not prove to be controversial was the architecture itself. What may have seemed a never-ending flow of petty annoyances, more substantial problems, and even perils was, in retrospect, a defining moment for the Mall as we know it. In this respect, it was a beginning as well. [67]


The two laboratory wings, after all the controversy, were quietly constructed (fig. 12) and completed on 17 March 1907, and the Building Committee dissolved. But the struggle to complete the complex continued. On 3 January 1905, Sewell wrote Galloway, submitting a "tentative draft of a bill for the erection of an Administrative building." Iowa Senator Jonathan P. Dolliver subsequently introduced a bill calling for demolition of the Cluss building (the original department building) and construction of the center wing for $1.75 million. It was referred to the Committee on Buildings and Grounds and died there. Nothing further happened for 25 years. [68]

Fig. 12 Construction of west wing of the Department of Agriculture building, April 1906. Shows brick bearing wall construction and extensive tile flue system for ventilation of laboratories. View is to the northeast, with Conservatory and old Post Office building at top left, old Department building at top center, and Smithsonian castle at top right. Author's collection.

As a result, the Department was left with a rather odd cluster of main buildings: in the words of one recent critic, the Cluss building resembled "a much despised Second Empire structure . . . a decayed tooth amid limestone [sic] grandeur" (fig. 13). There was also another problem, not visible from the Mall, at the back of the new complex where the ends of the two wings facing B Street were left unfinished (fig. 14, following endnotes). [69]

Fig. 13 The Mall in the summer of 1908, showing the newly completed Department wings on the right, before some of the older buildings in front of the west wing had been removed. Also shows Museum of Natural History nearing completion on the left. Washington, the Nation's Pride (Philadelphia, Pa., Avil Publishing Co., no date); author's collection.

Fig. 14 Unfinished business; the end of the west wing facing B Street in 1913. The structure to the right is the heating plant for the new complex. B Street at the time was a two-lane road running along the north side of what is now Independence Avenue. This view remained much the same until 1936 (see n. 69). National Archives, RG 16-G, box 5.

The situation was even worse with respect to secondary structures, some erected by department carpenters. While some of these temporary buildings had been torn down with the new construction, they were largely rebuilt on the northern side of the grounds, one out of salvaged materials. The latter drew particular criticism in 1908:

It is said to be not quite clear whose specific duty it is to protect the Mall from what is termed the latest desecration, apparently without the authority or consent of Congress, the President, or even the Park Commission. But it is declared to be the duty of at least someone to at once stay the building work, remove the blot and to take such action that hereafter no one may even start to erect a stable at the front door of an architectural monument of the nation. [70]

On the eve of leaving office, on 19 January 1909, Roosevelt issued an Executive Order that created a Council of Fine Arts to advise on the design and placement of future public buildings. In 1910, President Taft reaffirmed the renamed Commission of Fine Arts. At the hearings to establish this commission held on 9 February 1910, Illinois Representative James R. Mann raised the example of the "enormous crime as was perpetuated in the construction of the Agriculture Building," having noted "the first story below the level of the ground" and "two wings . . . constructed widely separated." He concluded: "A future place will never be hot enough to properly singe the man [responsible] for the present Agricultural Department constructed as it is." The hearing record continued: "Mr. [James L.] Slayden [from Texas]: Who did it? Mr. Mann: The art commission was responsible for it. Mr. [John J.] Fitzgerald [from New York]: The gentleman is mistaken. Mr. Mann: . . . President Roosevelt ordered it done at the request of the Burnham art commission." [71]


I wish to acknowledge the encouragement and assistance of Helen Dalrymple, Sue Kohler, and Pamela Scott over many years of research on the development of the Mall and of the Department of Agriculture complex. Pamela stimulated me to move on from research to writing this chapter and made many contributions.

1This is a much larger and more complex story than may be evident from the existing literature. David J. Murphy, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Maryland, did extensive archival research on the subject and presented a talk on "Architects, Engineers, and the New Agriculture Department Buildings; A Reinterpretation of the Fight Over Implementing the McMillan Plan" at a meeting of the Society for American City and Regional Planning, in Richmond, in November 1991. His paper was not published. Murphy, moreover, did not complete his graduate program and efforts to locate him have been unsuccessful.

2Hafertape, America's Castle, The Evolution of the Smithsonian Building and Its Institution, 1840-1878 (Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984), 26, 46-47; George Brown Goode, "The Smithsonian Building and Grounds," in The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896; The History of Its First Half Century, ed. George Brown Goode (Washington, D.C.; Smithsonian Institution, 1897), 255; Allan Nevins, ed., Polk, The Diary of a President, 1845-1848 (New York; Longmans, Green and Co., 1929), 124-25, 264, 272-73; Smithsonian Institution, Report from the Board of Regents, 29th Cong., 2d Sess., 1847, S. Rept. 21, 7-10, 15-17; Smithsonian Archives, Record Group 95, Box 68, large folios; Daniel D. Reiff, Washington Architecture 1791-1861: Problems in Development (Washington, D.C.; U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 1971), 120.

3Tortes, To the Immortal Name and Memory of George Washington (Washington, D.C.; Historic Division, Office of Administrative Services, Office of Chief Engineers, 1984), 14-16; Nevins, ed., Polk, Diary of a President, 273, 323; Frederick L. Harvey, History of the Washington National Monument and Washington National Monument Society, 57th Cong., 2d Sess., 1903, S. Doc. 44, 41-43; "Proceedings of the Board of Managers" (Washington Monument Society), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Record Group (RG) 42, Series (5) 420, Box 9, 144-45, 160-66, 182; H. P Caemmerer, Historic Washington, Capital of the Nation (Washington, D.C.; Columbia Historical Society, 1954), 48; Silvio A. Bendini, The Jefferson Stone; Demarcation of the First Meridian of the United States (Frederick, Md.; Professional Surveyers Publishing Co., 1999), 23-40, 61-127; "Washington Monument," National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), 17 April, 1848, 1; "Cornerstone of the National Washington Monument," National Intelligencer, 17 May 1848, 4; "Washington National Monument," National Intelligencer, 15 September 1848, 4.

4John B. Black, Commissioner of Public Buildings, to Charles Mason, Commissioner of Patents, 23 May 1856, NARA, RG 42,S 371, Drawer 10-101, Reel 7; Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1858, Agriculture (Washington, D.C.; 1859), hereafter RCP, frontispiece, 280-83; RCP 1859 (1860), 1; RCP 1861 (1862), 28-34.

5U.S. Statutes at Large 12, (Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1862); 387-88; U.S. Statutes at Large 13 (1864); 381; Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, 1862, (Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1863), 540-41, hereafter RCA; RCA 1864, 11-12, 547-48; B. B. French to Isaac Newton, 7 April 1863, NARA, RG 42, Microcopy No. M371, Roll 7, Vol. 14, 206; RCA 1863, 12-13; George J. Olzewski, History of the Mall (Washington, D.C.; Department of the Interior, Office of History and Historic Architecture, Eastern Service Center, March 1970), 20, 25; Charles Greathouse, Historical Sketch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Its Objectives and Present Organization (Washington; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Publications, Bulletin 3, 1907), 9,10, 41; Glenn Brown, Memories, 1860-1930; A Winning Crusade to Revive George Washington's Vision of a Capital City (Washington, D.C.; W. F. Roberts, 1931), 275.

6RCA 1864, 12; RCA 1865, 5-6, 25-32; RCA 1866, 9-10; RCA 1867, 14, 16-29; William Saunders to Horace Capron, 15 December 1867, Library of Congress, Papers of Horace Capron, Container 2; Greathouse, Historical Sketch, 9-13; RCA 1867, xviii; RCA 1868, 15-16, 192-93; RCA 1874; Reiff, Washington Architecture, 110-11.

7Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture, 1894 (Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1895), 62-64, hereafter YDA; YDA 1899, 65; YDA 1900, 76; Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 1st Sess., 21 April 1900, 4508; Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 2d Sess., 7 May 1900, 5208; Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 2d Sess., 31 January 1901, 1712; Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 2d Sess., 1 February 1901, 1768; and Cong. Rec., 56th Cong., 2d Sess., 7 February 1901, 2052. Data on changes in number of employees based on unpublished, non-archival information.

8U.S. Statutes at Large 31 (1901); 938; "For a New Wing," Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 8 March 1901, 11.

9Advisory Group to James Knox Taylor, 13 June 1901, Charles F. McKim Papers, Letterbooks, vol. 10, 118-21, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, hereafter McKim Papers, LC.

10Taylor to invited competitors, 18 June 1901, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 1, 1903; "Notes and Clippings," American Architect and Building News (6 July 1901), 8; "Programme and conditions of a competition for a building for the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.," (probably 18 June 1901), 284-87, in Austin W. Lord et al. v. the United States, No. 24809, Decided March 9, 1908, in Cases Decided in the Court of Claims at the Term of 1907-08, vol. 43 (Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1909).

11Charles McKim to Taylor, 23 August 1901, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 10, 179-81.

12Charles Moore, Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities (Boston; Houghton Mifflin Co. 1921), 1;162; Augustus Saint-Gaudens, The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Edited and Amplified by Homer Saint-Gaudens (New York; Century Co., 1913), 1:277; Lord & Hewlett v. United States, Appeal from the Court of Claims, No. 162, Argued 20 April 1910, Decided 2 May 1910, in United States Reports, vol. 217; Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term, 1909 (New York: The Banks Law Publishing Co., 1910), 342; The Inland Architect and News Record, December 1901, 40, folio; "Building for the Department of Agriculture, NARA, RG 16, S 167, Box (folio) 15; "Plans for a New Building," Evening Star, 28 October 1901, 1; "A New Building," Evening Star, 20 December 1901, 3; "Lord, Austin W," Macmillan Encylopedia of Architects, ed. Adolph K. Placzek (Free Press, 1982), 3:32. Lord was the first director of the American Academy in Rome and later director of the School of Architecture at Columbia University.

13U.S. Congress, H.7207, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 18 December 1901; Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, 342; Wilson statement taken from Building for the Use of Department of Agriculture, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, S. Rept. 1852, 2.

14Committee on the District of Columbia, The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Colombia, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, S. Rept 166 (Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1902), 13, 44, 95.

15Charles F. McKim to Daniel Burnham, 28 August 1901, enclosure (sent to Moore, 4 September 1901), Charles Moore Papers, Park Commission Correspondence, Container 2, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division; The Commission of Fine Arts, Twelfth Report, July 1, 1929 to December 31, 1934 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1936), 7, 11; Wayne D. Rasmussen and Gladys L. Baker, The Department of Agriculture (New York: Praeger, 1972), 10; Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. to Charles F. McKim, 31 October 1902, Olmsted Associate Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Box B 135, File 2828, Mall, hereafter Olmsted Papers, LC. The cross sections are on file at the Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, Mass., Archives, Job No. 2828, Plans 6 and 8.

16Early Vernon Wilcox, with Flora H. Wilson, Tama Jim (Boston; The Stratford Company, 1930), 26; John W. Reps, Monumental Washington, The Planning and Development of the Capital Center (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 144; William Rea Gwinn, Uncle Joe Cannon; Archfoe of Insurgency (publication place unknown: Brookman Associates, 1957), 7, 63, 67; Brown, Memories, 3, 99, 283.

17U.S. Congress, S.4722, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., March 24, 1902; Building for the Use of Department of Agriculture, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, S. Rept 1852, 1-2; Cong. Rec., 57th Cong., 2d Sess., 25 June 1902 (vol. 35), 7382-7383.

18S.4722, as marked up in the House, 18 December 1902; Building for Department of Agriculture, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., 1902, H. Rept. 2911, 18; James Wilson to D. E. Salmon, 16 December 1902, NARA, Microfilm Series M-440, Roll No. 36; B. T. Galloway, "Memorandum for Committee on Permanent Housing for Department of Agriculture," 19 June 1922, B. T. Galloway Files, Box 1, Folder 3, National Agricultural Library, hereafter Galloway Files, NAL.

19Wilson to H. B. Henderson, 22 January 1903, NARA, Microfilm Series M-440, Roll No. 36; Henderson to Wilson, 23 January 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162.

20Cong. Rec., 57th Cong., 2d Sess., 24 January 1903 (vol. 36), 1215.

21Cong. Rec., 57th Cong., 2d Sess., 2 February 1903 (vol. 36), 1585; "Gets a New Building," Evening Star, 2 February 1903, 1; Cong. Rec., 57th Cong., 2d Sess., 4 February 1903 (vol. 36), 1674; U.S. Statutes at Large 32 (1903): 806; Galloway to R. B. Talcott, 16 May 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 1 or 2.

22YDA 1905, 525. Biographical material on Galloway can be found in Science (29 December 1933): 598 and (1 July 1938): 6; Advisory Board to Wilson, 30 April 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 1, 1903; Wilson to Taylor, 30 April 1903, ibid. John Sewell to Wilson, 4 May 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 23; Lord v. United States, Court of Claims, 288; Leland M. Roth, McKim, Mead & White, Architects (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), 282.

23Galloway, "USDA Buildings: The Why of Two Wings," circa 1930, 2-3, Galloway Files, NAL, Box 1, Folder 3.

24Lord & Hewlett to Galloway, 25 February 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 1, 1903; Galloway to Lord & Hewlett, 17 March 1903, ibid.

25Ibid. Other accounts attribute this general idea to Cannon: Brown, Memories, 99, 283; "Wilson's Wings," USDA Newsletter, 4 June 1942; Galloway, "USDA Buildings," 4.

26"Statement of Beverly T. Galloway . . . in Reference to the Case of Lord & Hewlett vs. U. S.," NARA, RG 6, S 160, Building Book (hereafter BB) 3, 103-4, undated; Lord & Hewlett to Galloway, 14 April 1903 (author's collection).

27Lord v. United States, Court of Claims, 293-94; Galloway to Lord & Hewlett, 15 April 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 1; Lord & Hewlett to Galloway, 17 April 1903, ibid; "Statement of B. T. Galloway," Galloway to F. L. Evans, 9 May 1903, and Evans to Galloway, 12 May 1903, ibid.; Galloway to Lord & Hewlett, 11 May 1903, ibid; Lord & Hewlett to Advisory Committee, 12 May 1903, ibid.; Wilson to Lord & Hewlett, 13 May 1903, ibid.; Lord v. United States, Court of Claims, 282-99; Lord & Hewlett v. United States, Supreme Court, 340-48.

28Reps, Monumental Washington, 144; Theodore Roosevelt to Wilson, 19 June 1903, Library of Congress, Theodore Roosevelt Letters, Reel 331, hereafter Roosevelt Letters, LC; Wilson to Roosevelt, 14 July 1903, NA, RG 16, S 161, Claims Lord & Hewlett & Co., 1903-1904.

29Moore, Burnham, 1:206-7; Reps, Monumental Washington, 145; Roosevelt to Wilson, 28 July 28, Roosevelt Letters, LC, Reel 331.

30Moore, Burnham, 1:213-15; Reps, Monumental Washington, 145-46.

31J. H. Brigham to Roosevelt, 21 September 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 1601, BB no. 1, 20-22; Wilson to Roosevelt, 25 September 1903, NARA, RG 16, BB no. 1, 34; Sandra L Tatman and Roger W. Moss, Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects; 1700-1930 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985), 437, 643.

32Galloway to Rankin, Kellogg & Crane, hereafter RK&C, 4 August 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 2.

33RK&C to Galloway, 25 August 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; "New Department Building," Evening Star, 2 September 1903, 2; YDA 1904, 526; RK&C to Galloway, 5 September 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; Brigham to Roosevelt, 21 September 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 20-22; "Group of Buildings," Evening Star, 23 September 1903, 10; "Public Building Groups," Evening Star, 24 September 1903, 4.

34Galloway to RK&C, 8 October 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 31; Galloway to RK&C, 24 October 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 38.

35"Plans of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Buildings," 5 November 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box (folio) 15; YDA 1903, 102; YDA 1904, 526; attachment to minutes of meeting of Building Committee, 6 April 1904; NARA, RG 16, S 164; Galloway to RK&C, 12 November 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 45.

36Building Committee to Wilson, 24 November 1903, and Galloway to RK&C, 25 November 1903, NARA, RG 16, 8 160, BB no. 1, 52, 55; RK&C to Galloway, 27 November 1903, NARA, RG 16, Box 3; Galloway to RK&C, 15 & 18 December 1903, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 71-73.

37"Plans Approved," Evening Star, 9 December 1903, 12; "New Department of Agriculture Plans Accepted," Washington Times, 13 December 1903, 10.

38Charles Moore to McKim, 14 September 1900, New-York Historical Society, McKim, Mead & White Papers, hereafter MM&W Papers, NYHS (courtesy of Pamela Scott); Galloway to Rankin, 14 January 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 92; Rankin to Kellogg, 16 January 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3.

39"Against the Plan," Evening Star, 27 January 1904, 6; "The Mall and the Park Plan," Evening Star, 29 January, 1904; Glenn Brown to McKim, 29 January 1904, NARA, RG 801, S 1.1 (AIA Secretary Letterbook, Box 8, S 19a, vol. 26); McKim to Kellogg, 3 February 1904, McKim to Burnham and 3 February 1904, MM&W Papers, NYHS, 139.

40B. T. Galloway, "Minutes relative to meeting held in office of the President, 5 February 1904, in reference to location of Department of Agriculture," NARA, RG 16, S 163, Box 22; also reproduced in The Mall Parkway Hearing before the Committee on the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904), 6, hereafter Mall Parkway Hearing.

41Galloway to RK&C, 6 February 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 23; also RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 115; RK&C to Galloway, 8 February 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; also RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 117 (a further letter was sent to RK&C on 11 February 1904 with more detail, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 23 and NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 120); RK&C to McKim, 9 February 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2823; RK&C to Galloway, 18 February 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3).

42RK&C to Galloway, 6 February 1904, NA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; McKim to Moore, 8 February 1904, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 12, 319; McKim to Olmsted, 11 February 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2823; Moore Papers, LC, Box 7; McKim to Roosevelt, 10 February 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2823 (also in Moore, Burnham, 1:218-19); Roosevelt to McKim, 11 February 1904, Roosevelt Letters, LC, Reel 333; McKim to Olmsted, 11 February 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2823; McKim to Senate Park Commission members, 19 February 1904, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 12, 338-43. Brown, Memories, 275-76, provides a somewhat different account of this period.

43McKim to Francis G. Newlands, 1 March 1904 and Newlands to Olmsted, 5 March 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135; McKim to Brown, 8 March 1904, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 12, 337-58; U.S. Senate, S.4845, 58th Cong., 2d Sess., 7 March 1904; Brown, Memories, 275; Moore, Burnham, 1:219; Reps, Monumental Washington, 147.

44Cong. Rec. 58th Cong., 2d Sess., 8 March 1904, 2970-2972; "The Newlands Bill," Evening Star, 8 March 1904, 2; Wilson to Gallinger, 9 March 1904, NARA, M-440, Roll 43.

45Olmsted to C. M. Robinson, 1 March 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2828; Mall Parkway Hearing, 3-6. Some of the visual aids may have been reproduced a few days later in "Building Plans for Washington," Boston Herald, 14 March 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2828. They and other possible candidates are on file at the Olmsted National Historical Site under Job No. 2828 (Item 12, a painting, is a likely prospect).

46Mall Parkway Hearing, 5-11.

47Ibid., 16, 18, 20.

48Ibid., 9-10, 18, 20, 26. In 1933 it was estimated that it would cost about $1 million to dismantle and move the Washington Monument to a new foundation (Improvement of the Washington Monument Grounds, 72d Cong., 2d Sess., 1934, H. Doc. 528, 13).

49Roosevelt to Wilson, 12 March 1904, in The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. Elting E. Morrison, (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1951), 4:750-51; Reps, Monumental Washington, 147; "Improving the Mall," Evening Star, 12 March 1904, 2; "No Building Lines—No Buildings," Evening Star, 12 March 1904, 4; "Clear Space on the Mall," Washington Post, 13 March 1904, 2; "Building Plans for Washington," Boston Herald, 14 March 1904; "From Mall to Avenue," Washington Post, 17 March 1904; McKim to Nicholas Murray Butler, 14 March 1904, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 12, 371.

50"Mall Bill Reported," Evening Star, 22 March 1904, 12; Cong. Rec., 58th Cong., 2d Sess., 30 March 1904, 3974-3975; U.S. Congress, H.13926, 58th Cong., 2d Sess., 14 March 1904; McKim to Elihu Root, 18 March 1904, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 12, 380-82; William B. Bushong, "Glenn Brown, the American Institute of Architects, and the Development of the Civic Core of Washington, D.C." (Ph.D. diss., George Washington University, 1988), 149-51.

51Galloway to Kellogg, 14 March 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 3, 142-43.

52"Minutes of the Building Committee," 11-12 March 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 164, Box 20.

53Galloway to RK&C, 19 March 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 147; YDA 1904, 527; RK&C to Olmsted, 31 March 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B-135, File 2828; Galloway to RK&C, 2 April 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 156-57; Galloway to Building Committee, 4 April 1904, ibid., 159; "Minutes of the Building Committee Meeting," 6 April 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 164, Box 20; RK&C to Galloway, 12 April, 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; Galloway to RK&C, 16 April, 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 160, BB no. 1, 1, 172; RK&C to Galloway, 18 April 1904, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 3; RK&C to Galloway, 23 May 1904, ibid.

54"At the White House," Evening Star, 22 April 1904, 1; Olmsted to Rep. Samuel Powers, 26 Apr11 1904, Powers to Olmsted, 27 April 27 1904, and RK&C to Olmsted, 27 April 1904, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box 135.

55"President Champion of the Mall," Washington Post, 7 May 1904, 6; Roosevelt to Butler, 3 June 1904, in Morrison, Roosevelt Letters, 4:814 and cited in Reps, Monumental Washington, 147, fn. 41. The contracting process is summarized in YDA 1904, 98, and YDA 1905, 525-26.

56"Begins in Few Weeks," Evening Star, 20 March 1905, 15.

57Bernard Green to John Sewell, 16 February 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 26; RK&C to Galloway, 16 February 1905, NARA, RG 16, Proj. Files, Box 1, Agr. Adm., Folder I; RK&C to Galloway, 16 February 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 5.

58RK&C to Galloway, 1 March 1905, ibid.

59Brown, Memories, 277-78 (italics added); Reps, Monumental Washington, 147.

60McKim to Taylor, 13 June 1901, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 19, 118-21; Mall Parkway Hearing, 8; David F. Burg, Chicago's White City of 1893 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1976), 78 [McKim, Mead &White designed the Agriculture building at the Exposition]; Olmsted to McKim, 31 October 1902, Olmsted Papers, LC, Box B135, File 2828, Mall; see Scott essay, this volume.

61YDA 1905, 526; "Minutes of the Building Committee," 6 March 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 5.

62Building Committee to Wilson, 7 March 1905; Sewell to McKim, 7 March 1905, MM&W Papers, NYHS; Building Committee to RK&C, 8 March 1905, NARA, RG 16, Series 165, Box 26. RK&C responded on 11 March, staring that "the subject was brought to the attention of the Department as soon as possible after it was known to us [middle of February]," NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 5.

63RK&C to McKim, 9 March 1905, MM&W Papers, NYHS; McKim to Burnham, 9 March 1905, McKim Papers, LC, vol. 14, 173; Moore, Burnham, 1:227 (based on an address by Taft at the McKim Memorial Meeting of the AIA, 15 December 1909); Reps, Monumental Washington, 147.

64McKim to Roosevelt, 13 March 1905, McKim Papers, LC; Reps, Monumental Washington, 149-50; Moore, Burnham, 1:228; Brown, Memories, 278-79; Executive Order 306, The White House, 14 March 1905 (Congressional Information Service (CIS) Transcription of National Archives Microfilm Publication No. M1118), amended 18 March 1905; RK&C to Galloway, 15 March 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 162, Box 5; Galloway to RK&C, 29 March 1905, ibid.

65Green to McKim, 20 March 1905, Green to Galloway, 21 March 1905; Green to McKim, 21 March 1905, MM&W Papers, NYHS; "Meeting of the Building Committee," 21 March 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 164, Box 20. The Mall area was lowered about 3.5 feet in front of the new Agriculture Building in 1930, but this still left the first floor essentially at basement level.

66Sewell to McKim, 3 April 1905, MM&W Papers, NYHS; McKim to Sewell, 6 April 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 26; Sewell to Galloway, 10 June 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 165, Box 24; Galloway to Wilson, 9 October 1905, NARA, RG 16, S 162, BB no. 3, 82.

67In September, Burnham commented to Green that "it seems to be proper architecture and there is nothing objectionable," Burnham to Green, 25 September 1905, Daniel H. Burnham Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Library, Art Institute of Chicago, roll 7, vol. 15 (courtesy of Cynthia Field). The commission members evidently were not asked to comment on the RK&C design.

68Sewell to Galloway, 3 January 1907, NARA, RG 16, S 163, Box 22; U.S. Congress 84174, 60th Cong., 1st Sess., 29 January 1908; "The New Building," Evening Star, 7 March 1907. Construction of the center wing was finally started in 1927 and completed in 1930, when the old Agriculture building was torn down ("Old Makes Way for New," Washington Daily News, 30 August 1930, picture).

69Richard Guy Wilson, "High Noon on the Mall: Modernism vs. Traditionalism, 1910-1970," in Richard Longstreth, ed., The Mall in Washington, 1791-1991 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1991, 2002) 153; The rather glaring shortcoming of the unfinished wings was left unresolved, evidently without creating a fuss, for some three decades. Since the building complex was originally designed for a much deeper site on the north side of the Mall (figs. 6, 7) and simply switched to a much shallower site on the south, a compromise had to be made in adapting to the new property lines. This was done by simply and abruptly cutting off the southern portion of the wings as originally designed. The ends (fig. 14), moreover, were very plain brick painted white (somewhat analogous to several portions of the Federal Triangle) and adorned by metal fire escapes. They remained in this unattractive state until 1936 when the bridges were constructed across what was by then a considerably widened Independence Ave. (renamed in 1934) to the new South Building, the remaining wall area covered in marble, and the roofs tapered. It not certain what the Building Committee had in mind when they left the wings in this condition; but future extension of the wings across B St. (as suggested on pp. 211-212 and in figs. 9, 10) was certainly a possibility. In 1933, a representative of the department told the National Park and Planning Commission that "the idea of an arch over B St. has been in the minds of the Agriculture Department for the past 25 years" (extract from the minutes of the 75th meeting of NCPPC, March 16-17, 1933; NARA, RG 328, box 36).

70"Red Stable Rears Its Head," Sunday Star, 25 October 1908, part 7, 12 (with picture); Moore, Burnham, 1:218.

71Sue A. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, A Brief History, 1910-1995 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1996), 1-7; Moore, Burnham, 1:124-25; Cong. Rec., 61st Cong., 2d Sess., 9 February 1910, 1659.

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