Smithsonian - The Renwick Gallery - Inside
Inside The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, a National Historic Landmark, was erected between 1859 and 1861 by William Wilson Corcoran (1798-1888), Washington banker and philanthropist, as an art gallery for his private collection of paintings and sculpture. The building was designed by James Renwick, Jr., a prominent New York architect who designed St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York and the Smithsonian Building (The Castle) in Washington. During the Civil War, Corcoran left Washington to live in Paris with his daughter and son-in-law, a member of the Confederate diplomatic corps in France. The gallery building was seized by the U.S. Army in August 1861 for use as a storage warehouse for the records and uniforms for the Quarter Master General's Corps. In 1864, General Montgomery Meigs cleared and converted the building into his headquarters office. After the Civil War, Corcoran returned to Washington and pressed for the return of the art gallery, which was returned to his control on May 10, 1869. Corcoran immediately established a board of Trustees, and in 1870 the gallery was chartered by an act of Congress.