Hill Talk

Posted May 21, 2008 at 4:36pm

For the first time in its history, the National Building Museum will offer special veteran-related tours of its facility in honor of Memorial Day.

The tours will examine the building, which formerly housed the United States Pension Bureau, “as a memorial to Civil War veterans,” said Jasmine Zick, marketing and communications associate for the museum. Highlights will include the 1,200-foot-long terra-cotta frieze on its exterior depicting Union soldiers and medical units.

Tour groups will also see accommodations for war veterans who regularly visited the facility, designed by architect Montgomery C. Meigs and constructed in the 1880s, to collect their pensions. The stairs, for example, are especially wide and low on the first three floors to accommodate wounded soldiers on crutches.

Zick said she expects the tours to be popular. Tours will run for 45 minutes and will be offered on the hour from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday through Monday. All tours are free, and reservations are not required for groups of fewer than 10 people.

After Memorial Day, the museum will resume its usual schedule, offering tours every day at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The National Building Museum is located at 401 F St. NW.

— Melissa R. Attias