It was the first Smithsonian building, begun in 1847 by architect James Renwick, Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, also in Washington D.C. In August 1853, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents declared that the work of the original architect, James Renwick, Jr., was done. Lieutenant Barton S. Alexander of the U.S. Army Topographic Engineers was asked to take up the architect’s responsibilities for the slowly progressing Smithsonian Building. Under his supervision, the building was finished in 1855.
Over the years, several reconstructions have taken place. The first followed a disastrous fire on January 24, 1865, which destroyed most of the upper story of the main segment and the north and south towers. In 1884, the east wing was fireproofed and enlarged to accommodate more offices. Remodeling from 1968 to 1969 restored the building to the Victorian atmosphere reminiscent of the era during which it was first inhabited.
A statue of Joseph Henry is displayed in front of the building.
This building served as a home for the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, and his family and for many years housed all aspects of Smithsonian operations, including an exhibit hall from 1858 until the 1960s. In 1901, Washington’s first children’s room was installed in the Castle’s South Tower Room where the original decorated ceiling and wall stencils were restored in 1987. Located inside near the north entrance is the crypt of James Smithson, benefactor of the Institution, while outside on the Mall, a bronze statue of Joseph Henry, executed by William Wetmore Story, honors the scientist who was the Institution’s first secretary. In 1996, as the Smithsonian celebrated its 150th anniversary, a bell was added. Although Renwick had intended for a bell in his original plan, there was not enough money to add it to the Castle. It now chimes hourly.
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from iron or steel by forging the metal; i.e., by using tools to hammer, bend, cut, and otherwise shape it in its non-liquid form. Usually the metal is heated until it glows red or orange as part of the forging process. Blacksmiths produce things like wrought iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, horse shoes and weapons.
A blacksmith’s striker is an assistant (frequently an apprentice), whose job it is to swing a large sledge hammer in heavy forging operations, as directed by the blacksmith. In practice, the blacksmith will hold the hot iron at the anvil (with tongs) in one hand, and indicate where the iron is to be struck by tapping it with a small hammer held in the other hand: the striker then delivers a heavy blow with the sledge hammer where indicated.
When iron ore is smelted into usable metal, a certain amount of carbon is usually alloyed with the iron, (charcoal is almost pure carbon). The amount of carbon has extreme effects on the properties of the metal. If the carbon content is over 2%, the metal is called cast iron. Cast iron is so called because it has a relatively low melting point and is easily cast. It is quite brittle however, and therefore not used for blacksmithing. If the carbon content is between 0.25% and 2%, the resulting metal is tool steel, which can be heat treated as discussed above. When the carbon content is below 0.25%, the metal is either “wrought iron” or “mild steel.” The terms are never interchangeable. In pre-industrial times, the material of choice for blacksmiths was wrought iron. This iron had a very low carbon content, and also included up to 5% of glassy slag. This slag content made the iron very tough, gave it considerable resistance to rusting, and allowed it to be more easily “forge welded,” a process in which the blacksmith permanently joins two pieces of iron, or a piece of iron and a piece of steel, by heating them nearly to a white heat and hammering them together.
Hephaestus (Latin: Vulcan) was the blacksmith of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. A supremely skilled artisan whose forge was a volcano, he constructed most of the weapons of the gods, and was himself the god of fire and metalworking.
Most Designs Used Today Were Conceived Hundreds Of Years Ago By Some Of The Worlds Most Famous Architects And Designers Working For The Aristocracies And The Well To Do Of Their Period.
Many of these architects and designers are as well known as Leonardo da Vinci (renaissance architecture) or Michelangelo,s (baroque architecture) as well as more recently William Morris, John Ruskin (founders of the Arts and Crafts furniture movement in circa 1800 England) Gustave Stickley (founder of the American Arts and Crafts movement in America circa 1900.) Frank Loyd Wright, Charles and Henry Greene to name a few.
Every Successful Creative Enterprise Is Always Built On A Foundation That Was Laid Down By Its Predecessors.
All creative people are dependent upon the groundwork laid down by those who came before them. H. J. Nick, artist and direct descendant of the Marbella brothers, and ArtFactory.com have built on these foundations and have raised the bar of quality even higher. Thus setting a new standard and offering the finest one of a kind handmade furnishings found anywhere in the world in the 21st century.
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