Arts and Industries Building at dawn (Photo: Eric Long)
The renowned organizational genius of Montgomery Meigs as quartermaster general of the Union Army was instrumental during the Civil War. Less known, however, is that he was also an engineer, architect, inventor, and patron of the arts who left an indelible impression on the face of the capital city.
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was born in 1817 and trained at West Point in engineering and architecture. He designed and built the aqueduct that still supplies the District and Arlington with water; oversaw the building of the House and Senate wings and the dome of the U.S. Capitol, and was responsible for much of the decoration still in place there.
As an architect he contributed to the Smithsonian Arts and Industry Building and designed the Pension Building (now the National Building Museum). Meigs was also responsible for numerous military buildings, including one that remains at Fort Myer, Virginia. He held 13 patents for his inventions and was respected for his accomplishments as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and the Smithsonian’s board of regents.
In a richly illustrated program, historian Bill Keene offers historical background and a discussion of sites in the Washington area associated with Montgomery Meigs in his role of engineer and architect.
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