Rome is in our thoughts even when we're not in the city. And so RST was surprised, and pleased, to come across a reference to the architecture of the Eternal City while in Washington, D.C. over the holidays.
The surprise took the form of what is now the National Building Museum (created by Congress in 1980). It once housed the U.S. Pension Bureau, established after the Civil War to dispense pensions to the veterans (and their widows) of Union soldiers who had fought in that conflict.
|The entrance is on the other side, off F Street|
It's monumental in scope. With grounds at each end, it occupies much of a city block (between F and G and 4th and 5th NW). When completed in 1887, it was the largest brick building in the world--and controversial, too, because brick was an unlikely material for a major government building in Washington.
|Exterior frieze, Pension Building|
The Italian Renaissance Revival theme is also carried out inside, in one of the most impressive rooms ever created. The Corinthian columns that dominate the interior, also constructed in brick, are 8 feet in diameter, 25 feet in circumference and, at 75 feet in height, are still some of the world's tallest.
|The brick columns, under construction, early 1880s|
There's a charge (about $10) to get into the Building Museum, the carpeted Great Hall and some other locations in the building can be appreciated for free.
|F Street side, frieze above the first floor|
|The arcades of the Pension Building resemble those|
in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, above.