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In 1903 the National Geographic Society moved it’s headquarters at1600 M St NW
Washington, DC.  The complex was added on to over the years abc the current headquarters opened in 1963. I have Two questions. Where in DC was the headquarters before for this time? ALSO, what is the old 1600 building used for now?

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Hubbard Hall, at 16th and M Streets in Washington, D.C., was the first permanent home for the National Geographic Society. The Library was on the second floor, approached by a splendid double stairway of marble and later, in 1927, graced with the paintings of adventure and discovery by N.C. Wyeth. In the great room itself, dominated by a huge fireplace of carved Indiana limestone, glass-fronted bookcases lining the circumference held approximately a thousand books. The Library of that day served as an all-purpose reception area as well as a reading room for members. Since then the 2nd floor serves as the board room. The first floor has rooms for meetings and receptions along with a few offices.

The 17th Street building was dedicated by President Johnson in January 1964. Currently the National Geographic Society occupies only the first floor (Explorers Hall) and the basements. The upper floors have been rented to the Embassy of Australia while their building is undergoing demolition and replacement by a state-of-the-art chancery.

Thanks, Richard, for the great description. 

The Society still uses the building facing 16th St. as well. The Library is on the first floor, and the upper floors are office space for Society employees. Under consideration is a plan to make the ground floor on the 16th St. side accessible to the public and offer displays and more information about the Society's scientific explorations and commitment to geography education. And if and when we are granted landmark status, I will let you all know.

Best wishes,

Cathy Hunter

Archives & Special Collections


Three follow up questions that you have answers to. 1) Why did National Geographic go through several cover changes over its first 22 years before settling on the now famous yellow border? 2) Why were photos added to the cover? (I know this was Melvin G.”s idea)
3) I thought I read once that Mr. Hubbard wanted to avoid putting ads in early editions of National Geographic. But, by 1896 it was decided that in order to broaden its base ads needed to be put in. Is this true?

Thanks Cathy. Was the first floor, or grand hall ever opened to the public? I was there in 2005. I don’t recall.

The library was open to the public, but Hubbard Hall was not.



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