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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lunchtime Haunts - Department of Education


Last week, I was exploring the area near my office building when I circled around the Department of Education. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education building is directly across the street from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, so I've seen it plenty of times, but I'd never gotten close to it.

The building, with its clean, fantastic Modernist design was constructed from 1959 to 1961. Modernist design isn't too far removed from Googie architecture, my favorite futurist style, so I was predisposed to like it.  At the front of the building sits a huge, open courtyard with trees, benches and some tables.

Click pictures to embiggen.



What most surprised me, though, was the large, lower level courtyard on the eastern side of the street level courtyard. This lower level can be reached by a long stepped ramp which is conspicuously gated about halfway down.


You can see that the lower level has been abandoned for some time; it's unkempt and rotting. The windows under the walkway seem to be on a library or storage level on the bottom floor.


Even the support poles for the walkway are rotting away.  Look closely through the windows and you can see the bookshelves beyond.


This is a federal building housing a Cabinet-level agency, a few hundred feet from the National Mall, across the street from the second busiest museum in the world. And it has an unused, decaying courtyard that's obviously been closed for years.


Fascinating.

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