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Top Guide at Capitol Ushers in Changes

In only a few months, Greenough has obtained e-mail, laptops and a fax machine for the guides, begun tours of the Capitol Square grounds and charged himself with rooting out oft-told inaccuracies in the venerable building's history.

Greenough's new position calls for nothing like the costumed historical interpretation he does as co-director of Living History Associates Ltd., but he still speaks of Jefferson's "monumental temple" in the eloquent, measured baritone of a Shakespearean actor.

Standing in the Old House of Delegates, he greets a wandering visitor with a brisk "Yes, sir." The man responds, "Just looking," and Greenough nods. "Looking — that's a great thing to do."

Greenough, 42, is the first man in anyone's memory to head the tour-guide program. Most associate the program with women of a distinguished age, many of whom have guided visitors for decades. Greenough's predecessor, Charlotte Troxell, held the position for 27 years.

"In one sense, I represent the closing of a circle," Greenough says. The first person to lead tours of the Capitol in the early 1900s was Capt. Jack Pettis of the Capitol Police, he discovered, and in 1936 another man was appointed the first official tour guide. It wasn't until the 1950s that the Capitol became the province of Virginia ladies, Greenough says.

He can talk for hours about the Capitol's long history. He has already compiled an album of images illustrating its transformation over time and has thickened its files of historical documents. He also leads tours himself, in addition to his managerial duties.

After all, he says, "We have visitors to this building who are almost as important as the building itself." — M.S.S.

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