Little-known gems in Washington is the National...


May 27, 1992

ONE OF THE little-known gems in Washington is the National Building Museum, at 401 F Street, near Judiciary Square Metro station and Chinatown.

From the outside, the Renaissance Revival style structure looks impressive enough. (It should: it was built of 15.5 million bricks).

It is the huge, interior Great Hall, however, that takes the breath away. It is a sight that rivals Venetian palaces, with innumerable columns and elaborate ornamental details. This incredible building was constructed between 1881 and 1887 by U.S. Army Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs to house the bureau that dispensed pension to the disabled war veterans and their dependents.

In addition to this spectacular architectural creation, the building is worth a visit for a number of other reasons. One of them is a

special exhibit about Pittsburgh's transformation from an antiquated steel town into a vibrant, rejuvenated metropolis.

Another exhibit features milestones in American city planning. Two more exhibits are currently on view: one on Washington's development as the nation's capital, the other on bridge-building.

So many exhibits might crowd any another building. In the old Pension Building, though, there's still lots of unoccupied space.

We took the MARC commuter train from Baltimore to Washington. It was a bargain, at $9 round-trip!

If you go and visit the museum, peek into the commissioner's office on the second floor. With its elaborate fire place and decorations, it shows that Washington has always gone first class in its major building projects.

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DAN QUAYLE'S Top Ten other Complaints about TV:

10. Practically have to be a brain surgeon to figure how to turn it on and off.

9. They never did tell us "Who's the Boss."

NB 8. Even though you're screaming the answer, Pat and Vanna just

ignore you.

7. Too much joking around on "Cheers."

6. "China Beach" failed to show Vietnam war contribution of Indiana National Guard.

5. Never get to see Doogie in his underpants.

4. Too much liberal news coverage: too little golf and cartoons.

3. Enough with "dumb ads!"

2. Driving chuckwagon through kitchen cabinets looks a hell of a lot easier on TV.

1. Not enough positive portrayals of really dumb guys.

("Late Night with David Letterman," NBC, May 21.)

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Fans of the TV show "Murphy Brown" know that its scripts regularly invoke items politically topical. Now the politically topical has invoked "Murphy Brown." What a vicious cycle.

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