Capitol Furniture: Design for an Expanding Nation
By the mid-19th century, the United States had already outgrown its Capitol. The House Chamber—first occupied in 1819—was overflowing, as the number of Representatives increased along with the number of states in the Union.
A design competition was announced in 1850, and Thomas U. Walter’s proposal—which added grand yet practical extensions to the existing building—was chosen.
Walter’s U.S. Capitol extension plans both updated and harmonized with the Classical Revival style of the existing building. Walter also designed distinctive furnishings for the House Chamber, which today eloquently illustrates the Victorian design aesthetic of the Capitol during the period.