Browsing articles tagged with "Greenleaf Point Archives - Historic Fort Lesley J. McNair"
Sep
22

Brick, Brick, Wall and a Few Buildings Too! (Part 1)

By John Michael  //  Washington Arsenal  //  No Comments

The Capital City Needs A New Federal Penitentiary – Part 1

charles bulfinchWhen President John Quincy Adams tapped Charles Bulfinch, the architect from Boston, to design the first federal penitentiary on the northern acres of Greenleaf Point, who knew the role this structure would later play in the history of the United States – specifically in regard to the Lincoln assassination.   Bulfinch, as the 3rd Architect of the Capitol, had redesigned that building, incorporating a new central dome to it. He succeeded Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who was the 2nd Architect of the Capitol and Stephen Hallet (a.k.a. Étienne Sulpice Hallet) who was Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant‘s draftsman and the 1st Architect of the Capitol.

It Began in Boston

Bulfinch made his name and reputation in New England, specifically in Massachusetts  and around Boston -designing several buildings. Among these facts were why in 1817 he was named as the Architect of the Capital. In addition to the work done on the Capitol, he designed a prison in Alexandria, Va. (1826) and also designed the Federal Penitentiary (1827-28), Washington DC.

An In-depth Penitentiary Study

To get a better perspective about a penitentiary design,  Bulfinch sought out a variety of prisons both existing  or those being built in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  Armed with that knowledge, he then prepared a report to the President that highlighted his actions and the conclusions and recommendations for the new penitentiary that would be built for the Capital City located at the northern end of Greenleaf Point.

bulfinch penitentiary report

Results  and Recommendations for the Penitentiary

charles bulfinch on penitentiary

Read a copy of the report bulfinch-report-to-congress

A Penitentiary Design

Based on his report and details in it, the new District of Columbia Penitentiary would be a four-story brick building with twenty cells on each floor or a total of one hundred sixty cells surrounded by a perimeter wall.  The front of the penitentiary would face north.  Within the courtyard would be a separate building – that’s where the kitchen, mess hall and the shoe factory would be.

bulfinch penitentiary sketch

 

penitentiary plan

What the Future Held

The penitentiary completed in 1827 and never filled to capacity and the shoe factory didn’t provide enough income to maintain the facility since the combination of types of prisoners along with the number wasn’t sufficient Yet less than four decades later, it would be the site of what would be the incarceration, trial, and hanging of four of the Lincoln assassination conspirators including Mary Surratt – the first woman hanged by the US  federal government.

washington federal penitentiary

 

BUY THE BOOK

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

An  Author Autographed copy of the book is available for purchase.  Buy the Book

 

Brick, Brick, Wall  – Part 2 –

After that fateful day – 07 JUL 1865  what happened Next?   (COMING SOON)

Mar
31

A 1972 Tour of Fort Lesley J McNair – Part I

By John Michael  //  Fort Lesley J McNair  //  No Comments

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED

Map of Fort Lesley J. McNair Circa 1972 - The Area in Bold Line is Designated a Part of the National Historic Register

The Area in Bold Line is Designated a Part of the National Historic Register

 

 

After months of digging into boxes of photographs, combing through online databases of images, it’s rare to find something new and different about one of the most beautiful US Army Posts…  Fort Lesley J. McNair.  Good news, a series of rarely seen photographs were found that were taken in 1972.    Roosevelt Hall – the iconic building on the acres once known as Greenleaf Point changed from the name of Turkey Buzzard Point – still looks the same, yet among the recent discovery are several views that may show some marked changes.

The book – “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair” has a chapter devoted to the most current view of the post – this historic US Army Post – third oldest in continuous operation.   So here is another chronicling milestone  The tour of Fort Lesley J McNair begins with the iconic Roosevelt Hall

 

Aerial Photograph Southeast corner looking to the Northwest

Aerial Photograph Southeast corner looking to the Northwest

President Theodore Roosevelt arrived on 21 FEB 1903 to lay the cornerstone of the building that would take until 1907 to complete.  In the meanwhile the statue of Frederick the Great stood in front of the building site – it was a gift from the German government and dedicated on NOV 1904

Aerial View from the South looking to the North

Aerial View from the South looking to the North

 

On the left side of the above photograph is the US Army Signal Corps film processing and storage buildings that were the central facility to provide the results of the films captured by the signal corps.  Those buildings would eventually be razed and the work was done elsewhere.   Just north of that small complex of buildings begins Officers’ Row with the Officers’ Club as the first building.

 

Front of Roosevelt Hall looking to the South

Front of Roosevelt Hall looking to the South

 

There are two other sets of photographs from this group which can be seen –  PART II   and PART III.

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

 

 

Nov
11

L’Enfant Has Reservations with Washington

L’ENFANT’S RESERVATIONS HOLD PROMISE

Greenleaf Point

Greenleaf Point

Fort Lesley J McNair owes its origins to Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant who was commissioned by President George Washington to map out the Capital city of Washington DC.  L’Enfant fought in the American Revolutionary War and was very supportive of the efforts.  He was trained in Paris where he developed the skills and honed his talents to design the new Capital City of Washington DC.

In planning the city, he set aside “reservations” where either open space (parks, circles, etc.) or designated federal buildings would be placed.  For instance reservation #01 was where the Capitol would be placed.  The executive mansion would be at reservation #02 and so on.

Of import was reservation #05.  In fact it was designated “military reservation #05”  located at the southern most tip of the land included in the new Capital City.  Some 28 acres set aside to defend the city from enemy attack by water.  At the point where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers join, there was Turkey Buzzard Point. It was at that tip of land, an earthworks was built and an artillery piece placed in defense of Washington DC.   It was later renamed Greenleaf Point, when James Greenleaf a land speculator bought up most of the parcels in the southwest part of the new city.

He began to build houses in concert with the commissioners.  However, unfortunate for him, most of the development and expansion within the new Capital City was happening in the northwest.  The result was that few people were interested in locating in the southwest.

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

 

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