The navy [Department] library, in the state, war and navy building, is a lovely place to soak up atmosphere. Like the building itself, it is thirty-three years old. When it was built England, France, Spain and Italy presented the marbles of porphyry, sienna and malachite with which the walls are paneled. Mexico sent the pieces of onyx which encrust the gallery. The round stone over the door came from the ruins of Pompeii. The connoisseur in marble who visits in Washington will enjoy a call here.
In the center of the large room, lined with shelves of weighty tomes on naval matters, there is a large and important green-topped table. Around this table sat the strategic board of the Spanish-American war. Here also the naval advisory board for the great war made their secret plans and experiments. Edison, Maxim, Miller and many others conferred over it, with the windows carefully darkened and a guard before the door.
There is a quaint side to the library, too. A little white-haired lady can be seen any time, flitting about the shelves of dark heavy books or cutting and pasting busily in her corner by the window. This is Miss Mason, daughter of a former secretary of the Navy [John Y. Mason]. She has been in the library 26 years. If you happen in the near noon she may give you a cup of tea on one corner of her desk.
And of all charming places to have an unexpected cup of tea, with a sweet little old lady, this quiet nook among the books is recommended.