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Richard on the Treasury Building

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Richard - 400

“I grew up in North Hampton, Massachusetts. I did my Masters and Ph.D. in Massachusetts. I have a doctorate in American and New England studies. When I finished my coursework, I took my first job as an architectural historian with the state of Vermont. That was followed by a job in the Virginia historic preservation office as an architectural historian. From there, I got a job as the curator of the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia. Then, I crossed the Mason-Dixon line to work at the Treasury in 1990. I first worked as a collections manager and then as assistant curator and then curator and historic preservation officer for the Department of the Treasury.

Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who served from 1921-1932, was one of the first to attempt to recognize Treasury’s historical and artistic significance.

“This building has a lot of history. The Treasury building is the third oldest federal building in the District of Columbia, preceded by the Capitol and the White House. The first Treasury building was built in 1800 and then burned by the British when they came to town in 1814. A second building was erected, which was burned again in 1833. After the first two burnings, Congress wised up and hired Robert Mills who was from South Carolina to come and build a fireproof building. Mills had worked on the Capitol and used the Bourse in Paris as his prototype for the Treasury building. He gave every employee his own office, and essentially created the first modern office building in the United States. Since then, the building has undergone a number of extensions and renovations and now essentially occupies an entire city block.

“Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who served from 1921-1932, was one of the first to attempt to recognize Treasury’s historical and artistic significance. He instructed one of his assistants to collect historic furnishings and was instrumental in celebrating the historical significance of this building. However, it was not until 1986, that the Treasury Department created the office of the curator. Now, comparable offices exist at the White House, Senate, Capitol, and State Department. As the curator, I am charged with the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of the Treasury building and the Treasury collection. Treasury has the most comprehensive and oldest portrait collection within the Executive Branch. We also have a large collection of antique office furnishings, as well as museum quality art that relates to Treasury’s history, including serving as the temporary office of President Andrew Johnson after Lincoln’s assassination.”

Read more about the history of the Treasury Department here.

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1 Comment »

  1. There is a great rumor that the building is haunted. Is that really so?

    Comment by EFRUTIK — May 11, 2010 @ 3:30 am

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