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Home arrowNews arrowACHP Objects to Courtyard Enclosure Plan for Old Patent Office Building
ACHP Objects to Courtyard Enclosure Plan for Old Patent Office Building

For more information, contact Bruce Milhans at (202) 606-8513 or
or Martha Catlin at (202) 606-8529 or

OPOB courtyard
The historic landscape of the Old Patent Office Building courtyard could be largely restored if the Smithsonian implements the ACHP's recommendation to abandon plans to enclose the courtyard. The photo above shows the Old Patent Office Building's courtyard landscape prior to demolition. (photo: Jack Boucher, Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey)

April 21, 2005, Washington, DC—The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has issued sharp criticism of how the Smithsonian Institution failed to consider or appreciate the architectural importance of the Old Patent Office Building, a Washington, DC, National Historic Landmark, before destroying the building's historic courtyard and making plans to enclose it with a glass roof.

In a letter to Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small, ACHP Chairman John L. Nau, III, recommended that the Smithsonian abandon its plans to enclose the courtyard and restore it to its historic appearance. If the project continues despite that recommendation, the ACHP recommended modifying the current plan to develop a less-intrusive structure that does not overwhelm the historic building.

In his response to the ACHP's letter, Secretary Small said that his agency plans to continue with the project, and will seek final approval from the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) as early as June 2005.

The ACHP also issued comments on the courtyard enclosure plan to NCPC, stating that the outcome of the ACHP's April 11, 2005, public meeting on the project, and a report from the Secretary of the Interior to the ACHP on the proposal's adverse effects, constitute new information that NCPC should consider before it reviews the Smithsonian's final plans.

NCPC's response to the ACHP is expected in June 2005.

Click here for the ACHP's letter to the Smithsonian (in PDF)

Click here for the ACHP letter to NCPC (in PDF)

Click here for archived information on the proposed project

About the ACHP

The ACHP, an independent Federal agency, promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of the Nation's historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also provides a forum for influencing Federal activities, programs, and policies that impact historic properties. In addition, the ACHP has a key role in carrying out the Administration's Preserve America program.

Learn more about the ACHP

Updated May 20, 2005

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