The Army Medical Museum and Library (29)The Mall
Constructed in 1886, demolished 1969
Originally located in Ford's Theater after it closed following the Lincoln assassination.
When Congress appropriated a mere $200,000 in 1885 for the construction of a proper building for the Army Medical Museum and Library, the architects, Adolf Cluss and his partner Paul Schulze, were forced to economize their plans. Cluss explained in a letter to Colonel Thomas Casey (Commissioner of Public Buildings) that inexpensive materials and construction methods would be required to achieve "the solidity, sanitary condition and dignity due to a public building erected upon a prominent Government reservation." He proposed using terracotta rosettes to enliven the rather plain pressed-brick façades. Cluss and Schulze designed a U-shaped building in the Romanesque Revival style with arched windows along Independence Avenue and 7th Street, NW to house the nation's medical library, pension records, and museum of the Surgeon General's Office.
The second floor formed the most imposing internal spaces, with a library in the west-wing gallery and a large exhibit space in the east-wing gallery. These large galleries had forty-seven foot high ceilings with exposed trusses and monitor skylights. Since these spaces housed treasured objects, they were constructed as fireproof compartments within the building; insufficient funds prevented the architects from fireproofing the entire structure.
In the central core, a large hall with iron columns connected the offices of the Record and Pension Division of the War Department and the Surgeon General's Office. The building also contained a post hospital, a dissecting room, photography rooms and storage spaces. Anatomical and biological laboratories were housed in a two-story annex on the Mall, connected to the main building by a covered passage. Plans for a later extension along the Mall, redirecting the main façade to the Mall, never materialized.
During the 1960s, the Army Medical Museum and Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, but nonetheless was demolished in 1968 to make room for the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
The museum collections moved to a new museum on Walter Reed Hospital property in Washington, and the library collection to the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.