By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers
It looks as if it's actually happening. After several years of back-and-forth with historic preservationists, Secretary Janet Napolitano broke ground today at the Department of Homeland Security's new headquarters: the former St. Elizabeth's Hospital, the site of the first government psychiatric hospital. Those involved couldn't be happier, "I do have a kind of paternalistic feeling toward the Department of Homeland Security," says Sen. Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "I wasn't alone in the founding of this—there were many others who were part of it—but I feel like we're finally giving a proper home to these children that we've created."
That "proper" home is the entire western campus, which is being renovated, in part, with federal stimulus dollars. It includes an assortment of impressive but eerie buildings dating to 1855, a Civil War cemetery, a majestic view of downtown Washington, and a famous neighbor, former President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin John Hinckley, who still resides across the road at the hospital's eastern campus.
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