Beautifying Washington

U.S. Capitol, Library and House Office Building from an Aeroplane/tiles/non-collection/2/2009_210_006.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
An aerial view of the Capitol Hill building complex from a 1932 postcard shows the beginning of the plan for a unified look for the neighborhood.
The Cannon House Office Building was designed to enrich the Capitol not only in space but in appearance. Part of the larger project of beautifying and rationalizing the development of Washington, D.C., the new office building was an initial step in creating an enclave of marble edifices on Capitol Hill. A harmonious, unified complex surrounding the splendid Capitol was to take the place of the slapdash neighborhood of saloons, shops, and hotels.

Stone Contractors Advertisement/tiles/non-collection/2/2007_053_000.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The construction of the House Office Building was a large-scale project, and touted as a credit to the stone contractors in this 1908 ad.
The prominent architectural firm Carrère and Hastings planned the new office in the symmetrical, sculptural, and stately Beaux-Arts style, a look that complemented but did not compete with the Capitol. The building is clad in marble and limestone, with 34 columns facing the Capitol. Pilasters of the same height line the west side of the building, whereas the east and south sides, which are not visible from the Capitol or from busy streets, are unadorned. Originally, there were 397 individual offices, and 14 committee rooms. For added convenience, the new building was—and still is—connected to the Capitol by an underground tunnel.

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