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DEPARTMENT BUILDING AND GROUNDS.
The new building of the Department of Agriculture is one hundred and seventy feet long by sixty-one feet deep, and consists of a finished basement, three full stories, and Mansard roof. Desigued in the renaissance style of architecture, the front presents a center building with main entrance, flanked by two projecting wings. The material is pressed brick, with brownstone base, belts, trimmings, and cornices. Walking over a flight of swelled granite steps, the visitor passes through the main door, of oak and ash wood, into an octagonal vestibule of twenty feet square and sixteen feet high, the floor of which is laid with rosettes and borders of encaustic tiles, and the sides paneled in encaustic paint. The ceiling is decorated with fresco work, around a center, representing an arbor of vine foliage, and held by American eagles with spread wings; arabesque ornaments are sprung with four medallions illustrating in turn, by landscape, light effect, and human figures, spring, morning, and childhood; summer, noon, and youth; autumn, evening, and mature age; winter, night, and old age.
Around á wide corridor, similarly finished, but in plain style, are grouped office rooms of twenty by twenty feet in size. The reception room is chastely decorated, while the chief clerk's room is finished with an apparently solid molded and paneled wainscot in curly walnut, mahogany, and maple, covering the height of side walls, surmounted by frescoed stucco cornice and a ceiling in complementary colors. This wainscot is a specimen of the “American wood-hanging,” which is an application of wood to the plastered walls. The wood is prepared in strips of different lengths, of about the thickness of paper, and is placed upon the walls by paper-hangers. The adjoining office of the Commissioner is done in the same material, but in a higher style of the art, the panels of rich bird's-eye maple being bordered by friezes of maliogany and blistered walnut, alternating with fancy paneled pilasters in mahogany and satin wood, all parted by curly maple and set off by gilt edges. This series of rooms is completed by the private office of the Commissioner, finished in plain library style, with friezes of birch, borders of black walnut, and panels of mountain ash. The rooms for clerical purposes are finished in plain encaustic oil paint, with frescoed ceilings-all in different colors. The western end of this story is occupied by the library, which is furnished with mahogany cases; and a suite of rooms on the eastern terminus is devoted to laboratory purposes, where all cumbersome apparatus is dispensed with; and an ample supply of gás furnishes the modern heating power.
A double flight of fire-proof stairs, of wrought and cast iron, in the center of the building, and opposite the vestibule, lit by a grand window glazed with stained glass, leads to the second story, the main or central part of which is appropriated to the Museum of Agriculture, a hall one hundred and two feet in length, fifty-two feet in width, and twenty-seven feet high. There are three large entrance doors, of six by twelve feet, of artistic design. The size and style of the ten windows, each seven by sixteen feet, partake of the character of the modern exhibition palaces. The hall is crowned by a bold coved stucco cornice, the lines of which are broken rhythmically by heavy brackets, in the sculpture of which colossal Indian busts form prominent features. The grand cove itself is adorned by a chain formed of festoons and groups of flowers and fruits with medallion shields, into which the escutcheons of the United States, surrounded by those of the thirty-seven States of the Union in chronological succession, are worked. The ceiling is divided into fifteen heavily molded panels, the centers of which are occupied by rosettes conforming with each other in general outline, but each having distinct details. The colors of the hall are in neutral tints, which are diversified mainly by the heraldic colors of the escutcheons. The furniture of the hall consists of elegant glass cases, with solid, dust-proof walnut frames, surmounted by architraves, friezes, and cornices, bearing carved volutes with intermediate vases and busts. Perhaps the most noticeable piece of furniture is the redwood table, the top of which, seven and a half by twelve feet, is formed of the largest plank in the world, sent to the Department froin California.
At the western terminus of the museum are located the working rooms of the entomologist, and a room of extra size, containing in walnut cases a valuable herbarium. At the eastern terminus of the museum are the rooms of the statistician.
The third story of the building contains rooms for miscellaneous purposes, assorting and putting up seeds, &c., and is in direct and easy communication with the basement by means of a large elevator.
The whole building is heated by steam, two boilers thirteen feet long by forty-eight inches diameter being located in a fire-proof apartment of the basement. Most of the rooms are heated by circulated air passing from outside through coils of steam pipes in the basement, and ascending in tin-lined flues, which feed the registers in the rooms. Each room has an independent heating power.
The whole work has been executed under the superintendence of Mr. Adolph Cluss, the architect.
GROUNDS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
For the purpose of preventing dampness in the walls, a water-tight concrete walk closely surrounds the building; opposite the principal front this concrete surface is fifty feet in width the entire lergth of the building, thus giving ample room for the approach and departure of carriages. The space in the immediate front is laid out as a strictly geometrical flower garden with architectural appendages, such as vases and statuary. It is divided by a terrace wall, to be ornamented with stone balusters and pediments for the reception of plant vases; communication with the lower garden being provided by stone steps, the whole forming a proper arrangement for the harmonious connection of the building and its surroundings. This connection is maintained at the ends by large growing trees, but the immediate front will be kept open, thus avoiding the common error of preventing the building from being viewed as an architectural design, a fault painfully apparent in many fine structures, in which beauty of their architectural features is wholly lost by dense growths of trees and shrubbery.
The plant houses are located west of the Department. The design includes a range of glass structures with a front three hundred and twenty feet in length by thirty feet in width. These include apartments for the culture of exotic fruits, of which a collection is being formed for a complete series of the citrus family, a class of fruits now extensively produced in Florida and other southern States, of which family several fine varieties of oranges and lemons have already been introduced and propagated for trial in this country, and for an extensive collection of