Graphical timeline from Smithson to Smithsonian
From Smithson to Smithsonian - The Birth of an InstitutionThe Smithsonian Building

Introduction
Who Was James Smithson?
Sccepting Smithson's Gift
All-American Compromise
The Smithsonian Building
An Institution Emerges
A National Collection
Smithson's Legacy

A Building Model Becomes a Model Building for American Colleges

Smithsonian Building Model, north facade
Smithsonian Building Model, north facade

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Renwick built an elaborate and detailed model which was based on plans approved by the Board of Regents. The painted model shows a three story central building. To cut costs, the Regents directed that the number of floors in the building's central section be reduced from the three shown here to two.
Smithsonian Building Model, south facade
Smithsonian Building Model, south facade

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Renwick's model included two options for a second tower at the north entrance. One, with a pointed roof, which contrasted with the taller flat-topped tower, was selected by the Regents. The second option which matched the existing taller tower would have given the building a symmetrical appearance. (The model for the optional flat-tower is shown on the right side of the photograph.)

When the Smithsonian Building was built, it became a model for designers of collegiate buildings such as these:

Antioch Hall
Antioch Hall

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Antioch Hall, Antioch College, Ohio (Original design: 1852)

The two tall central towers with round arch windows and a false gable evoked the Smithsonian Building.
Davis Hall
Davis Hall

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Davis Hall, Worcester Academy, Massachussetts (Original design: 1852)

Elbridge Boyden designed this building, originally a medical college, in a medieval revival style similar to that of the Smithsonian Building.
Douglas Hall
Douglas Hall

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Douglas Hall, University of Chicago (1856-1886)
(Original design: 1857-1866)

The asymmetry of the Smithsonian Building was reflected in the design of Douglas Hall, built in 1857-1866 for the first University of Chicago (1856-1886). Many featuresóthe tall front tower with its distinctive finials and round window, the oriel, the round arch windows, the battlements, and the buttressesólink this collegiate building with Renwick's design for the Smithsonian Building.

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