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Historical Highlights

The House of Representatives Opened a Third Office Building

February 23, 1965
The House of Representatives Opened a Third Office Building Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Sam Rayburn of Texas served 25 terms in the House of Representatives, including 10 terms as Speaker of the House.
On this date the Rayburn House Office Building opened along Independence Avenue on the southwestern corner of Capitol Hill. After the House opened its first office building in 1908, and then a second in 1933, a general growth in legislative business and steady rise in the number of staff put increasing pressure on the House’s existing workspace. In early 1955, the House began what would become a 10-year assessment and construction project, breaking ground at the site of the new office building and laying the cornerstone a few years later in May 1962. That month the House also named the building after former Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, who had died the year before and who had served as chairman of the House Office Building Commission. When the Rayburn Building finally opened in February 1965, it covered more than a million square feet and stretched down two city blocks. With tall ceilings and marble hallways, the Rayburn Building had expansive office space for 169 Members and nine standing committees. Its many amenities included a pool, two gyms, a cafeteria, a subway system with direct access to the Capitol, modern furnishings, and a massive underground garage. During the office lottery at the start of the 89th Congress (1965–1967), Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the House’s longest-tenured Member, picked first and chose a room on the first floor.

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The Cannon House Office Building, completed in 1908 and later named for Speaker Joseph Cannon of Illinois, is the oldest congressional office building. The creation of offices for Members of Congress forever changed how the House of Representatives worked.

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