Historical Highlights

The House Vote to Acquire the Ford House Office Building

February 20, 1975
The House Vote to Acquire the Ford House Office Building Image courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol Previously referred to as House Annex 2, the building was renamed in May 1990 as the Ford House Office Building in honor of former House Majority Leader and President Gerald R. Ford.
On this date, by a vote of 273 to 134, the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill that allocated $17 million for acquiring and renovating the present-day Ford House Office Building on 2nd and D Streets, SW, Washington, D.C. Built in 1939 to alleviate the shortage of space for government offices, it was used as a fingerprinting warehouse for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the building was abandoned by the agency in early 1975 when it relocated to its new offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) selected the location two blocks from the Rayburn House Office Building after a three-month search, initiated by the Joint Building Commission, made up on the House side of three top-ranking Members: Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma, Majority Leader Thomas “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts, and Minority Leader John Rhodes of Arizona. The commission sought to address the lack of office space on Capitol Hill, as post-Watergate reforms led to substantial increases in staffing levels. “I remember when I came to Congress [in 1953], I had . . . three employees in my Washington office,” O’Neill recalled. “Now, we have 16 employees.” The bill passed on the assurance that “nonessential” offices would be housed in the new building—including offices under the Clerk, AOC, Congressional Research Service, and minority committee staff—opening prime office space in the three existing buildings for Members and majority committee staff. AOC construction staff moved into the new building in July 1975, though it was not fully occupied until 1978. In May 1990, the building was renamed in honor of former House Minority Leader and President Gerald R. Ford.

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