From the 122nd Annual Meeting column of the September 2007 Perspectives
Tours Sponsored by the Local Arrangements Committee
Dane Kennedy, September 2007
Listed below are the various tours that the Local Arrangements Committee has organized for the 122nd annual meeting. Preregistration is highly recommended for all the tours. Tickets will be available via onsite registration up to one hour before the scheduled departure of each tour if space is still available. Tour tickets are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged. Tour participants must be registered for the AHA meeting.
Tours will meet at the LAC Tours Office (Marriott's Room 8226 on the Lobby Level) or at other locations specified below. Street addresses and Metro directions are provided for tours not meeting at the hotel.
- Tour 1: Preview of President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home National Monument. Friday, January 4, 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Marriott's Room 8226 at 9:15 a.m. for a bus to the site. Tour leaders: Frank Milligan, Jill Sanderson, and Erin Mast (President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home)
This tour will provide a special preview of a new National Trust Historic Site and National Monument scheduled to open to the public on Presidents' Day, February 18, 2008. Join Director Frank Milligan, Director of Public Education Jill Sanderson, and Curator Erin Mast for a tour of the cottage where President Lincoln lived for over a quarter of his presidency from the spring to late fall of 1862, 1863, and 1864. He commuted daily to the Executive Mansion and used the cottage both as a sanctuary and as a work place for entertaining and meetings with colleagues and political opponents out of the glare of the White House fish bowl. It was at the cottage that Lincoln thought through presidential proclamations and policies, most importantly the Emancipation Proclamation. The tour encompasses a multimedia-enhanced 50-minute guided visit through the original cottage and a visit to the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center's interactive media and exhibits. A tour of the grounds will be included, time permitting. (Limit 30 people. Fee: $10 per person.)
- Tour 2: At Home with History: The Decatur House Museum and Lafayette Square. Friday, January 4, 12:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Meet at the Marriott's Room 8226 at 11:30 a.m. to join a group taking Metro to the museum. Participants may also meet outside the entrance to the museum at 12:15 p.m. The museum entrance is located at 1610 H St. N.W., near the corner of H St. and Jackson Pl. Take the Red Line to the Farragut North station; the museum is two-and-a-half blocks south. Tour leader: Catherine Allgor (Univ. of California at Riverside).
Decatur House, located on historic Lafayette Square, will be the site for a tour and discussion of the museum's mission to create historic narratives that combine domesticity and public power. The tour will also consider the challenges of presenting a historic home in a city full of monumental landmarks. One of the Decatur House's innovations involves bringing the house tour out-of-doors. You'll also get a demonstration of their innovative cell phone tour, "Half Had Not Been Told to Me: The African American History of Lafayette Square."
(Limit 25 people. Fee: $5 per person.)
- Tour 3: Capitol Visitor Center. Friday, January 4, time TBA. Check www.historians.org/annual in late November for the scheduled start time. Meet at the Marriott's Room 8226 45 minutes before the scheduled start of the tour to join a group taking Metro to Capitol Hill. Tour leader: Matt Wasniewski (U.S. House of Representatives).
The Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) project has been conceived as an extension of the Capitol, welcoming visitors to the seat of American government. This hour-long tour will include a preview of the CVC's major rooms: the exhibition gallery, orientation theaters, and grand hall. At nearly 580,000 square feet—approximately three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself—the CVC is the largest project in the Capitol's two centuries of history. Construction, which began in 2001, is scheduled to be completed in late 2008. The entire facility is located underground on the east side of the Capitol so as not to detract from the appearance of the Capitol and of the grounds designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874. (Limit 20 people. Fee: $5 per person)
- Tour 4: Duke Ellington's D.C.: U Street, Shaw, and Beyond. Saturday, January 5, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meet at the Marriott's Room 8226 at 9:30 a.m. to take a bus tour of the neighborhood. Tour leader: Maurice Jackson (Georgetown Univ.). This tour will explore the historic U Street/Shaw neighborhood where Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, and many other greats of African American music got their start. In the neighborhood's heyday, venues like the Howard Theater, Republic Gardens, Crystal Caverns, and Lincoln Colonnade made U Street one of the proving grounds for big-band swing and other variants of jazz. We will explore the social context of that thriving scene, including the United House of Prayer and Dunbar High School. This will be a bus tour with several stops. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. (Limit 20 people. Fee: $5 per person)
- Tour 5: Civil War Washington. Saturday, January 5, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Meet at 8th & F St. (Walt Whitman Way) N.W., Near the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station on the Red Line. Tour leader: Barbara Bair (Library of Congress).
See four historic buildings and walk the streets that once were the heart of Civil War-era Washington. The tour focuses on the wartime roles of Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, and Abraham Lincoln. Starting on the steps of the National Historic Landmark National Portrait Gallery building, where Whitman once worked as a civil servant, and which became one of D.C.'s wartime hospitals, the tour will proceed past the Missing Soldier's Office operated by Clara Barton and conclude at Ford's Theater National Historic Site and the Petersen House, where President Lincoln was shot. Participants will also visit the Lincoln museum, operated by the National Park Service, and/or proceed on their own along Cultural Tourism DC's "Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail." Copies of the map for the trail will be distributed to tour participants. The tour will be illustrated with facsimile documents and photographs from the collections of the Library of Congress. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. (Limit 20 people. Fee: $5 per person)
- Tour 6: Built Environment Tour: "David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture" and the National Building Museum. Saturday, January 5, 12:30–2:00 p.m. Meet outside the National Building Museum (401 F St. N.W.) at 12 p.m. Take the Red Line to the Judiciary Square station. Tour leader: Kathleen Franz (American Univ.).
Should public historians carry sketch pads? Join curator and public historian Kathleen Franz for a guided tour of the temporary exhibition "David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture." The exhibition examines illustrator David Macaulay's creative process and explores his use of drawing, as a form of visual archeology, to excavate past building practices. Over 100 original drawings and sketches demonstrate Macaulay's extraordinary skill as a public historian. The show also attempts to engage the audience in the act of drawing as a way to sharpen visual skills for recording, critiquing, and redesigning the built environment.
While at the National Building Museum, you're invited to take a second tour of the museum's historic home, the Pension Bureau building designed by civil engineer and U.S. Army General Montgomery C. Meigs in 1881–87. Created with a dual purpose to administer military pensions after the Civil War and to offer a grand space for inaugural balls, the building's monumental design was based on Italian Renaissance structures such as the Palazzo Farnese. The structure is a breath-taking example of late-19th-century engineering and claims the world's tallest interior columns and a complex passive cooling system. (Limit 15 people. Fee: $5 per person).