National Zoo: Machine and Carpentry Shops Building – Washington DC

Project type: Zoos, Parks and recreation
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Description

The Machine and Carpenter Shops building was constructed at the National Zoo in 1936-37, with a grant from the Public Works Administration (PWA). The PWA paid for four buildings and other improvements to the zoo in the 1930s.

In 1938, the National Zoo reported that “fiscal year 1937 was probably the most outstanding in the history of the Zoo.  The construction under the Public Works Administration grant of $892,920 was completed. These improvements include… machine and carpenter shops…”  The separate cost of the Machine & Carpenter Shops building is not specified in the reports.

The Zoo report described the new utility building as being constructed “of stone, 61 by 100 feet, 2 stories; the lower story accommodates a stockroom and iron and machine work, and the upper story is mainly for carpentry work. The improved facilities provided by this have permitted much greater efficiency of operations in the maintenance of the Park than had been possible heretofore.”

This building was designed in 1935 by Edwin Hill Clark, lead architect for all the New Deal additions to the National Zoo.  The work was supervised by the Treasury Department Procurement Division’s architectural office.  The actual construction was undertaken by private contractors.

In the black and white photo in the gallery below, the Machine and Carpenter Shops building is in the background, behind a PWA-funded garage and a small boiler house.  The boiler house does not appear to have been funded by the PWA, but the PWA did provide funds for the “the installation of three 250-horsepower down draft boilers, which will serve to heat all of the exhibition buildings with the exception of the bird house” (1936 annual report).

Sometime in 1938-39, WPA workers removed the small smokestack shown in the black & white photo below (from the Zoo’s 1939 annual report).  The larger smokestack, which can also (barely) be seen in the photo, between the garage and boiler house, appears to be the same one in use today.

The National Zoo still uses the Machine and Carpenter Shops building for various purposes.

Source notes

“Report on the National Zoological Park,” in Appendix 6 of the Annual Report of the Board of Regents, The Smithsonian Institution: Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Conditions of the Institution, for the Year Ending June 30, 1936, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937.

“Report on the National Zoological Park,” in Appendix 6 of the Annual Report of the Board of Regents, The Smithsonian Institution: Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Conditions of the Institution, for the Year Ending June 30, 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1938.

“Report on the National Zoological Park,” in Appendix 7 of the Annual Report of the Board of Regents, The Smithsonian Institution: Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Conditions of the Institution, for the Year Ending June 30, 1939, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940.

 

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee and Maureen Budetti on September 17, 2019.

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Location Info


3001 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

Coordinates: 38.9319, -77.0524

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