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The Smithsonian Institution Castle is a monument located along the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Constructed with a combination of both Roman and Gothic architecture, it was first completed in 1855, and was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. Renwick was also responsible for the design of the famous St. Paul's Cathedral in New York City. One of 16 buildings in the Smithsonian complex, this particular building primarily holds all of the Smithsonian offices and an information complex, and is constructed almost entirely of red sandstone.
Soon after the building's completion, a fire in 1865 nearly destroyed the building, devouring the entire north and south wings of the Castle, along with the upper story of the building's central segment. It was rebuilt in a simpler style, with fireproofing techniques added, in 1884. In 1968, the building went under a massive renovation, which restored the Roman and Gothic architecture to the wings. The building originally housed a home for the family of Joseph Henry, who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian. An exhibit hall was also located in this building, up until 1960, when the exhibit hall was closed and the exhibits distributed to the Institution's many other buildings. A children's room was added in 1901, featuring stencils and other artwork by children, and was restored completely in 1987.
Inside the building also lies the crypt of the museum's namesake, James Smithson. A statue of Joseph Henry is located outside the museum, and is one of many statues in the National Mall. The Castle celebrated it's 150th Anniversary in 1996, and a bell was added in the main tower. Today, visitors to the Castle can view an 18-minute orientation film about the building and the rest of the museum, view a touch-screen presentation about the Institute presented in six languages, view a scale model of Washington, D.C., as well as a scale, touchable-map of the District of Columbia, complete with labels in braille. Exhibits have since been re-added to the Castle, and the exhibits rotate on a regular basis. The Castle is also open for regular, guided tours.