House Chamber Ready for Action/tiles/non-collection/2/2008_130_037_cropped.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object 
The House made do with steel-beam scaffolding for nearly a decade, despite the obvious danger from a deteriorating roof. The delay resulted in part from the high cost of construction materials and shortages of labor during World War II.
After a 1938 building survey declared the roof over the House Chamber “far short of present day safety requirements,” the time had come to revamp the space. In 1940, the House installed an interior scaffold to keep the roof up, but fixing the roof itself was several years down the road. The House continued to meet in the Chamber until July 1949, when repairs finally got underway. The completely renovated Chamber saw its first meeting of Congress on January 1, 1951.

Although sound structure was the first order of business, a new look was also part of the project. The Victorian tastes that governed the initial décor were, a century later, practically synonymous with old and outdated. According to the Architect of the Capitol’s report to Congress on the project, the new look was inspired by “sources of early Federal architecture used . . . in the Supreme Court and Statuary Hall portions of the Capitol and other buildings from the early Republic.” In addition to appealing to 20th century tastes, the designers also believed the cleaner lines of a federal-inspired style were well suited to adding modern lighting, air conditioning, and acoustic treatment.

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