Small Mammal House, National Zoo - Washington DC
The Public Works Administration (PWA) funded a Small Mammal House at the National Zoo, constructed in 1937. It was one of several buildings paid for by the PWA and many other improvements made at the zoo by New Deal relief agencies.
It is a brick building done in Italian Renaissance style, with a triple-arch entry, one semicircular end, limestone trim and tile roofing. It includes a ventilation system. The designed was done in 1935 by Edwin Hill Clark, lead architect for all the New Deal additions to the National Zoo, as well as the Philadelphia zoo, in 1930s. The work was supervised by the Treasury Department Procurement Division’s architectural office. The actual construction was undertaken by private contractors.
A 1939 report on PWA projects provides further details: “This building… contains 96 cages and tanks, varying in size from a few inches to 12 by 40 by 10 feet to provide accommodations for a great variety of animals. It is divided into 4 sections. The large central room has cages which vary in size from 4 by 5 to 6 by 12 feet, some with glass fronts and others with steel bars. The second section is for the great apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and orang-outangs. The third section is for the gibbons, and the fourth section, known as the ‘nocturnal room,’ occupies the semicircular end and houses a group of small creatures which are seldom seen in public collections.”
The exhibit spaces have been altered over time.
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C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown. Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1939.
Project originally submitted by Gray Brechin on December 4, 2011.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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