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Summer House Repairs Set to Begin

With winter coming to an end, the Architect of the Capitol is preparing to repair 6-month-old damage to the Capitol’s Summer House.

Portions of the building, located on the footpath leading from Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol’s north side, were damaged during inclement weather in mid-September 2003.

“There was some minor damage that was done during Hurricane Isabel,” explained AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki. Several sections of brick appear to have been knocked down on the building’s north side, which is now protected by a metal barrier.

Malecki said AOC employees will begin repairs on the hexagon-shaped structure in coming months in conjunction with warmer temperatures.

The historic structure is closed each winter and its water fountains and stream are shut off, along with other water-based attractions located on the Capitol grounds.

“We don’t want to cause any damage from pipes breaking,” Malecki said. The building’s three wrought-iron gates also are currently locked.

The structure, built around 1881, will be open by early summer, even if repairs are not completed, Malecki said.

“When the weather turns better in early May is when we open it back up and turn the water features on,” she added.

There is no estimate available on the cost of the repairs, but Malecki described the project as “relatively minor.”

Landscape Architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Summer House as a respite for Capitol visitors who often had nowhere to get water or rest while visiting the grounds, according to the AOC’s Web site.

The building features stone benches with armrests that seat 22 visitors, along with three drinking fountains and a central fountain. A grotto adjacent to the building showcases a small brook, which serves as a sort of natural air-conditioning in combination with a canopy of leaves that filter sunlight and serve as the structure’s roof.

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