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Archive for washington d.c.

If Walls Could Talk

By Linda Tancs

We often ponder what might be learned if walls could talk. Well, there’s no need to wonder. At Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum, the walls do plenty of talking. In fact, the site is the leading cultural institution devoted to interpreting the history and impact of the built environment. Telling the stories of architecture, engineering and design, its exhibitions run the gamut from “please-touch” walls made out of different materials used in residential construction over time to advances in sustainable architecture. The museum building itself is a conversation piece. Located just blocks from the National Mall, its exterior was modeled after the Palazzo Farnese in Rome and boasts a 1,200-foot-long frieze wrapping the building and depicting a parade of Civil War military units. Inside, the soaring Great Hall is set off by colossal 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns. Free docent-led historic building tours are available daily.

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A Salute to Early America

By Linda Tancs

With an inheritance from George Washington, granddaughter Martha Washington and her merchant husband Robert Peter (Georgetown’s first mayor) built a Neoclassical house on over eight acres of farmland on Georgetown Heights in Washington, D.C. Completed in 1816, Tudor Place has overlooked Georgetown and the Potomac River ever since. Occupied by the same family for six generations, it was dedicated to the public in the 1980s following the last owner’s death and remains one of the nation’s few historic urban estates retaining the majority of its original landscape. Viewable today by hourly guided tours, the grand residence remains as the Peters lived in it, showcasing over 15,000 items dating from the mid-18th to the late 20th centuries, including early land records, maps, photographs, moving pictures, diaries, household receipts, correspondence and one of only three letters extant from George to Martha Washington. The garden is equally storied, sporting native trees and shrubs that date back centuries. Enjoy four seasons of color with a self-guided tour.

Women’s Power on Capitol Hill

By Linda Tancs

The Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C., celebrates the history of women’s progress toward equality. Located near the U.S. Capitol, the house is the site where Alice Paul and other suffragettes fought for equal rights for women. It’s been home to the National Woman’s Party since 1929. Designated a national monument earlier this year by President Obama, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is named for Alva Belmont (a former party president) and Alice Paul, the party’s founder. The site contains an extensive library and archival and museum holdings relating to the women’s movement.

A Storied Place

By Linda Tancs

Located between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, the Newseum is—you guessed it—a museum about news and journalism. This interactive facility is loaded with exhibits, videos and archives of front pages. You’ll also find a part of the Berlin wall and a watch tower, a 9/11 area, a Boston marathon area, mini theaters with short shows and a huge FBI area. And don’t miss the sweeping vistas from the top floor. News junkies, rejoice!

A Celebration of Indigenous Cultures

By Linda Tancs

The National Museum of the American Indian has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world. Numbering over 825,000 items, its inventory represents over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. Located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol, the museum’s innovative curvilinear architecture, its indigenous landscaping and exhibitions were all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities from across the hemisphere. A satellite location is within the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City.

Lunar Rock and a Church

By Linda Tancs

At every turn, Washington National Cathedral is a piece of history 83 years in the making. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation stone was laid in 1907. In 1990, over 80 years later, construction was completed on this Gothic masterpiece. Among its many jewels you’ll find a piece of lunar rock comprising the Space Window, a sculpture of Darth Vader at the west tower, peal and carillon bells at the central tower (the only place in North America to house both) and one of the few old growth forests still standing in the nation’s capital (Olmsted Woods).

A President’s Life in Washington

By Linda Tancs

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is the only president who made Washington, D.C., his permanent home following his term in office. In 1921, President Wilson and his wife retired to a Georgian Revival mansion on S Street, in an area known for stately homes and diplomatic residences. Having led the nation through World War I, he made a radio address (the first nationwide remote radio broadcast) to the American people from The Woodrow Wilson House on November 11, 1923, the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day. Wilson was also a president of Princeton University and a governor of New Jersey.

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