How a Building Changed the House: Cannon House Office Building
The Cannon House Office Building is the oldest congressional office building. When completed in 1908, these new offices for Members of Congress forever changed how the House of Representatives worked.
In the half century before the Cannon Building opened, the Capitol had become overcrowded to the point of bursting. New states entered the Union during the nation’s westward expansion, and House membership grew from 193 in 1865 to 391 by 1908. Most Representatives had no office or staff, only a desk and chair in the hectic House Chamber. Committees had to fight for space just to hold a meeting.
How could an office building change congressional work so much? With expanded space, committees could hold more public hearings, Members could meet with constituents, and staff could be hired to accommodate the requests that flowed into the House from citizens around the country. In short, the House could go about its business in a more efficient and professional manner.