U.S. Botanic Garden

The U.S. Botanic Garden, at 100 Maryland Avenue S.W., is adjacent to the Capitol Reflecting Pool. George Washington proposed a botanic garden as part of the plans for the capital, and the U.S. Botanic Garden was established by Congress in 1820, and is the oldest botanic garden in the U.S. It has been administered by the Architect of the Capitol since 1934.
The original site of the botanic garden was at the base of the Capitol grounds. A greenhouse was built on this original site in 1850, and enlarged in 1867. The McMillan Commission was established in 1901 to improve the Mall area and restore it to L’Enfant’s original vision for the city. Daniel Burnham, Frederick L. Olmsted, Jr., and August Saint-Gauden were members of the commission. The commission recommended moving the botanic garden slightly to the south, and to put the Grant Memorial on the original site. A new building was planned in 1927. Daniel Burnham was offered the commission, but declined it and recommended one of his proteges, Edward Bennett, to be the architect.
The front of the building is white limestone, and is designed in the neo-classical style. The faces above the doors were mythological figures, created by the sculptor Leon Hermant. The figures visible in this image are Pan and Flora.
Behind the limestone building is a soaring glass conservatory, designed in the style of 1800’s glass and iron conservatories. Instead of iron, however, aluminum was used, and this was the first major building to use aluminum for its strength.