Few buildings are more important than that of a government’s treasury. America’s version started out as a two-story brick building located directly southeast of the White House, housing around half of the federal workforce. An arsonist seeking to destroy incriminating pension records burned it down in 1833, and the government hosted a design competition for its replacement. The winner almost didn’t make it to completion: Halfway through construction, Congress decided it hated its Greek revival design, and the Architect of the Capitol advocated for its demolition. A vote to scrap the building failed, 94-91, and Robert Mills’ design finally got built—over the span of three decades. Independent historian Pamela Scott, who also sits on D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board, documents the drama in her new book Fortress of Finance, published by the Treasury Historical Association (yes, the building has its very own fan club).
Pamela Scott discusses her book at 7 p.m. at the Takoma Park Library, 416 Cedar St. NW. Free. (202) 576-7252.