House Restaurant Menu
Offerings in the House have changed over the years. From this menu, patrons in 1933 could choose from such delicacies as “pin money pickles” and Postum cereal. One item that hasn’t changed is bean soup, offered every day since 1904, when Speaker of the House Joe Cannon
(R-IL) demanded that it always be on the menu.
In 1991, Congressman Charles Bennett
of Florida (1910–2003) donated $20,000 to the Capitol Preservation Commission for the purchase of one of three glass-and crystal chandeliers now in the Members' Dining Room. These 19th-century fixtures are made of glass and crystal, and were originally gasolier fixtures, later altered for use with electrical power. The fixtures were installed in 1992 and are referred to as the Bennett Chandeliers because of the Congressman’s initiation of and involvement with the refurbishment project. They replaced simple brass chandeliers and added elegance to the Members’ Restaurant.
Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives
House Restaurant Bowl
The Member’s Dining room used serving pieces produced by the Onondaga Pottery Company. The company was known for its “Syracuse china,” a type of vitreous dishware named for the location of the factory. It was used extensively in hotels and restaurants due to its durability and chip-resistant rolled edges, a design element pioneered by the company. The vignette of the Capitol with a ribbon reading “House of Representatives” shows another of the company’s innovations: Onondaga Pottery was the first U.S. china company to have an in-house lithographic printer, which allowed for efficient production of custom-decorated dishware.
A Collation in the House Restaurant
This 1932 print humorously describes some of the quirks and institutional functions of the House Restaurant. A highly partisan waiter, another employee who reported the status of floor business, and the historic console mirror are long-standing features of the restaurant, described in detail here. The print also points out the restaurant's function as an informal meeting place for Members by illustrating a meal shared by the chairs of three powerful House committees—Collier of Ways and Means, Pou of Rules, and Byrnes of Appropriations.
In the Restaurant of the House of Representatives, Washington
In the late 19th century and early 20th century the House Restaurant, like much of America, was a segregated space. White Members and their guests conducted business at tables set with linen and crystal, while African Americans were present as waiters, and in the basement below as cooks. It was not until the 1920s that Representative Oscar de Priest famously desegregated the dining room.
Sketches at the National Capitol, The Tariff Debate in the House of Representatives
The entrance to the House Restaurant was crowded during the tariff debate of 1894. Members flocked there for refreshment, and constituents lingered nearby to buttonhole their congressmen. In the lower left of this print, the artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper showed the busy scene in the lobby of the dining room.
Ladies Who Lunch
Representatives often entertained visitors in the House Restaurant. Congresswomen Winifred Stanley, Edith Nourse Rogers and Frances Bolton dined with members of the military in 1943, likely in the Members' Dining Room.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives, Photography Collection About this object