Friday, February 10, 2012

U.S. Capitol Worksheet

Who reported the fire to the fire department?

Who found Moberly unconscious in his room?

The law creating the Library of Congress, approved on April 24, 1800, called for its books to be housed in "a suitable apartment" in the Capitol. On Christmas Eve, 1851, the Library of Congress suffered a disastrous fire. Approximately 35,000 of its 55,000 volumes were destroyed in the flames, which were caused by a faulty chimney flue. Architect of the Capitol Thomas U. Walter presented a plan, approved by Congress, to repair and enlarge the Library room using fireproof materials throughout. The elegantly restored Library room was opened on August 23, 1853.
The copyright law of 1870 brought two copies of all copyright items to the Library. It immediately became apparent that the Library would soon run out of space. The decision to relocate the Library of Congress into a separate facility was reached after years of discussion among politicians, architects, and the persistent librarian of Congress, Ainsworth Spofford.

Throughout his life, books were vital to Thomas Jefferson's education and well-being. When his family home Shadwell burned in 1770 Jefferson most lamented the loss of his books. In the midst of the American Revolution and while United States minister to France in the 1780s, Jefferson acquired thousands of books for his library at Monticello. Jefferson's library went through several stages, but it was always critically important to him. Books provided the little traveled Jefferson with a broader knowledge of the contemporary and ancient worlds than most contemporaries of broader personal experience. By 1814 when the British burned the nation's Capitol and the Library of Congress, Jefferson had acquired the largest personal collection of books in the United States. Jefferson offered to sell his library to Congress as a replacement for the collection destroyed by the British during the War of 1812. Congress purchased Jefferson's library for $23,950 in 1815. A second fire on Christmas Eve of 1851, destroyed nearly two thirds of the 6,487 volumes Congress had purchased from Jefferson.
Through a generous grant from Jerry and Gene Jones, the Library of Congress is attempting to reassemble Jefferson's library as it was sold to Congress. Although the broad scope of Jefferson's library was a cause for criticism of the purchase, Jefferson extolled the virtue of its broad sweep and established the principle of acquisition for the Library of Congress: "there is in fact no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." Proclaiming that "I cannot live without books," Jefferson began a second collection of several thousand books, which was sold at auction in 1829 to help satisfy his creditors.

1851 - Library Burns, Again

On Christmas Eve a spark from a stove in the Library of Congress within the Capitol caused a disastrous fire that gutted the room and destroyed much of the Library?s collection. Following the fire, Thomas Walter designed the first room in America constructed of fireproof cast iron. It remained in use until 1897 when the Library moved into the building now known as the Thomas Jefferson Building.

'Suitable Apartments'The Library's Buildings and Spaces, 1800-2000


The law creating the Library of Congress, approved by president John Adams on April 24, 1800, called for the Library's collection to be housed in a "suitable apartment" in the Capitol building.

The Thomas Jefferson Building shortly after opening; construction engineer Bernard R. Green (1843-1914) played a major role in the construction of the Jefferson Building from 1888 until its completion in 1897 — even designing its bookstacks — then served as superintendent of the Library building and grounds until his death.

Thus began what has become a two-century struggle for space to accommodate what Dr. Billington described in his testimony before Congress on Jan. 27, 2000, as "the largest and most inclusive library in human history."

In the beginning there was the U.S. Capitol building — however it was not much of a building, for in 1800 only its north wing had been completed. From 1802 to 1805, the small library was in a room that the House of Representatives had previously occupied. Then it was moved to various places in the Capitol (documented in William Dawson Johnston's History of the Library of Congress 1800-1864) until Aug. 24, 1814, when the British burned and destroyed the Capitol, including the Library.

Left, the Library's room in the Capitol in 1832, drawn by Andrew Jackson Davis. This room opened in 1824, was destroyed by fire in 1851 and reopened in 1853.; right, the U.S. Capitol in 1839, drawn by August Kollner. The Library of Congress was located in the Capitol's center portico from 1824 until the Jefferson Building opened in 1897.

The purchase of Jefferson's library in 1815 to "reconstitute" the Library of Congress promised better days ahead, but not immediately. Finally, on Aug. 17, 1824, after four years in temporary quarters at Blodget's Hotel at Seventh and E Streets N.W., and nearly six years wedged into the attic story of the Capitol's north wing, a grand new Library of Congress room opened in the Capitol's west center, overlooking the Mall. Designed by Architect of the Capitol Charles Bulfinch, it was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. On Dec. 22, 1825, a fire started by a candle left burning in the gallery was controlled before it could cause serious damage. Fireproofing was investigated but found too costly. The Library's law collection was separated into a separate "apartment" in 1832.

On Christmas Eve, 1851, the Library suffered a disastrous fire. Approximately two-thirds of its 55,000 volumes were destroyed by the flames, including two-thirds of Jefferson's private library. A faulty chimney flue was the culprit. Architect of the Capitol Thomas U. Walter, with congressional approval, presented a plan to repair and enlarge the Library using fireproof materials. The elegantly restored "iron" room, which was encircled by galleries and filled the entire west central front of the Capitol, was opened to congressional and popular acclaim on Aug. 23, 1853.

In 1865 Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1864-1897), the Library's first great expansionist, obtained approval for adding two new fireproof wings. He soon filled them, however, and then the copyright law of 1870, whose passage he had supported, was responsible for flooding the shelves with two copies of all copyrighted items. Spofford turned to Congress for help, noting in his 1875 annual report that the Library was out of shelf space and if Congress did not soon approve his request for a separate building, its Librarian would be "in the unhappy position of presiding over the greatest chaos in America."

Spofford's great achievement, today's Thomas Jefferson Building, did not open until 1897. The struggle for its completion and its ultimate success brought the Library of Congress public attention and a new public role. It was known at the time as both the "National Temple of the Arts" and the "Book Palace of the American People." For many years it was the largest library building in the world. However it was not nearly big enough for Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam (1899-1939), the institution's second major expansionist. With support from Congress, Putnam added new services (mostly to libraries) and collections from around the world. Three of the Jefferson's Building's four interior courtyards were quickly filled: the east courtyards became bookstacks in 1910 (southeast) and 1927 (northeast), and the northwest courtyard became the home of the Coolidge Auditorium (1925), a small reflecting pool (1928), and the Whittall Pavilion (1939). The east side of the Jefferson Building was extended in the early 1930s, providing, in 1934, new quarters for the Rare Book Room and the National Union Catalog.

Left, construction on the extension of the Jefferson Building's east side, from 1933. The new Annex, today's Adams Building, would soon be built across Second Street and adjacent to the Folger Shakespeare Library; right, despite the addition of the Adams Building, overcrowding continued in the Jefferson Building, as seen in this photo from the 1970s. With office space creeping out into the second level of the Great Hall, the need for a third building was more evident each year.

At Putnam's urging, in 1928 Congress authorized purchase of land directly east of the Jefferson Building for the construction of an Annex Building (now called the John Adams Building). The simple classical structure was intended, essentially, as a functional and efficient bookstack "encircled with work spaces." Its construction, supported by appropriations in 1930 and 1935, was delayed because of the Depression. The doors were opened to the public on Jan. 3, 1939.

In 1957, Librarian of Congress L. Quincy Mumford (1954-1974) initiated studies for a third major Library building. In 1960 Congress appropriated planning funds for the structure, today's James Madison Memorial Building. Construction of the huge, functional structure was authorized in 1965 and began in 1971. The move into the building started in 1980 and was completed in 1982. The enormous Madison Building supplanted its sister Jefferson Building as the largest library building in the world when it opened. It relieved terribly crowded conditions in the Jefferson and Adams buildings. It also made possible, through the office of the Architect of the Capitol (which is responsible for the Library's buildings and grounds), for the renovation of both the earlier buildings, as there was finally enough space to rearrange holdings and offices so that those buildings could be restored. Congress made the initial appropriation for this purpose in 1984 and completion was celebrated in 1997 when the Library marked the Jefferson Building's centennial.

Workers look out at the Jefferson Building from a floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, under construction in 1974. The building was dedicated in 1980, completing the Library's presence on Capitol Hill.

Librarian Mumford also extended the Library internationally. Through Public Law 480 (1958) and Title II-C of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Library established its first formal overseas offices: New Delhi and Cairo (1961) and London (1966). Today the Library has six overseas acquisitions and cataloging offices.

In recent decades, finding space to accommodate the Library's enormous collections (119 million items, out of which approximately 19 million are books) and their expansion (currently 10,000 items are added each working day) has become an increasingly complicated and vexing issue. Because additional Library of Congress buildings on Capitol Hill are out of the question, the emphasis has been on off-site collection storage facilities, particularly in Landover and Suitland, Md., and, for motion pictures, at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In 1999, however, the Library announced plans for two new, long-term locations for the storage and servicing of selected collections: Fort Meade, Md., and Culpeper, Va.

The Adams Building nears completion in 1938. The Jefferson Building can be seen at right.

On Nov. 5, 1999, Dr. Billington and Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman broke ground for construction of a complex of 13 Library of Congress storage facilities that will be built at Fort Meade during the next 50 years. About 20 miles north of Capitol Hill, the 100-acre Fort Meade site will provide a cool, safe environment for paper-based collections, especially books and pamphlets, but also selected serials, maps, manuscripts, music and prints.

In 1997 Congress authorized the Architect of the Capitol to acquire, on behalf of the Library of Congress, a well-equipped facility in Culpeper for development into the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. After renovation, the complex will provide more than 141,000 square feet to catalog and conserve the Library's motion picture, radio, television, video and recorded sound collections. Architectural design will be completed in spring 2000, with construction scheduled to be completed between 2003 and 2005.

John Cole is director of the Center for the Book and co-chair of the Bicentennial Steering Committee.

Back to April 2000 - Vol 59, No. 4

History of Frederick County, Maryland - Google Books Result Thomas John Chew Williams Folger McKinsey 1979 - Reference - 1724 pages
Moberly, son of Levi Moberly, was also a painter by trade. For about forty years he was engaged in business in Frederick City. He is now living retired.

Glenn Brown’s prolific writing career was his two-volume History of the United States Capitol (1900 and 1903).

Google brings up this notice from the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives---with no mention of any destroyed House documents--only "folded ones."

The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol

January 03, 1930

At 7 pm on this date, two Capitol Police officers discovered a fire in the art restoration and modeling room in the Capitol. Located in an attic space near the dome, the fire illuminated the cold night sky. More than 27 fire crews from around the region responded to the fire alarms.The fire was confined to the room used by Carl Moberly, a resident artist at the Capitol. Water and smoke caused $3,000 in damages to a number of federal building models as well as portraits of federal judges which were undergoing restoration. A replica of the Capitol model (the original was at the Seville Exposition in Spain) suffered extensive damage. Moberly was discovered unconscious on the floor of the room by Sidney Mitchell, superintendent of the House document folding room. He was taken to the office of Representative John Garner of Texas and treated by Dr. George W. Calver, the House naval physician and the future Attending Physician of the Capitol. After administering first aid, Dr. Calver evaluated Mr. Moberly and determined he was “in such condition that anything he might say as to the origin of the fire could not be depended upon.” Moberly was transferred to a local hospital. Despite the difficult physical location of the blaze, firemen managed to extinguish it in less than an hour. To add to the chaos, thousands of spectators descended on the Capitol grounds joining a pack of movie newsreel photographers. Throughout the night, the Capitol Police maintained a perimeter around the building to keep crowds away


  • Artifacts in the House Collection (120)
  • Board of Education Room (2)
  • Brumidi, Constantino (5)
  • Cannon, Joseph (Uncle Joe) (21)
  • Capitol (31)
  • Deschler, Lewis (3)
  • Garner, John Nance (10)
  • Johnson, Lyndon (14)
  • Longworth, Nicholas (10)
  • Parliamentarian (3)
  • Rayburn, Sam (24)
  • Speaker of the House (78)

  • Capitol Bibliography


    An 1825 Library of Congress fire

    December 22, 1825

    On this date, the Library of Congress, then located in a room on the west side of the Capitol, caught on fire. Late in the evening Representative Edward Everett of Massachusetts noticed a suspicious light in the window near the library as he departed a Capitol Hill dinner party. Everett informed a Capitol Police officer who did not have a key to the library door and dismissed Everett's concern. The Congressman returned to his nearby home. Other officers, however, saw the glow increase in intensity and summoned the Librarian of Congress, George Watterson, to the Capitol. Watterson and the police discovered a fire on the upper level of the library. Representatives Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Sam Houston of Tennessee arrived at the Capitol along with Everett to assist in fighting the growing blaze. Firefighters arrived and extinguished the blaze before it spread to the ceiling and other sections of the Capitol. After the smoke settled, firefighters determined the cause of the fire was an unattended candle. Damage was not as extensive as the August 1814 inferno, when the British destroyed the Capitol (and most of official Washington, D.C.). Listed among those items lost in the fire were duplicate copies of books and an expensive rug. This was the second blaze in roughly a decade and it prompted Congress to request Architect of the Capitol Charles Bulfinch to investigate flame retardant materials for the library and the Capitol as a whole.

    The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital: The Masons and the<

    Charles Moberly (from 1921 to 1931), and George B. Matthews (between 1928 and 1935)

    Brumidi Corridors - Architect Of The Capitol

    Ch 8-"Gems of the Capitol"--Constantino Brumidi Artist of the Cap

    The Death of "the Genius of the Capitol"--Constantino Brumidi Arti

    Full text of "A technical investigation of painting medium: the analysis of three wall paintings by Constantino Brumidi in the United States capitol : a case study" by Catherine Sterling Myers.   A THESIS in The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Presented to the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science, 1992

    January 4, 1930, The Huntingdon [PA] Daily News, Page 1, Column 8, FIRE MENACES U. S. NATIONAL CAPITOL, DAMAGE SLIGHT, Thousands Race To Scene As General Alarm Is Sounded Last Night, ARTIST ALMOST SUFFOCATED

    Washington D. C., Jan. 4---Official investigation into the fire which threatened the United States Capital, last night failed to throw much light today on the cause of the blaze. It was determined however that the flames started in the model room of Charles Moberly, 61 year old artist who was carried out of the smoke filled room partially unconscious. David Lynn, capital architect in charge of the investigation announced today that Moberly had admitted taking a couple of drinks yesterday but denied that he, was intoxicated.

    Lynn also announced that Samuel Hall an ex-policeman was in the model room with Moberly about
    the time the fire started.

    The damage to the model room and a portion of the house document room is small and will not reach over  $3,000.

    The land on which the Capitol stands was first occupied by the Manahoacs and the Monacans, who were subtribes of the Algonquin Indians. Early settlers reported that these tribes occasionally held councils not far from the foot of the hill. This land eventually became a part of Cerne Abbey Manor, and at the time of its acquisition by the federal government it was owned by Daniel Carroll of Duddington.
    The "Residence Act" of 1790 provided that the federal government should be established in a permanent location by the year 1800. In early March 1791 the Commissioners of the City of Washington, who had been appointed by President George Washington, selected the French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant to plan the new federal city. L'Enfant decided to locate the Capitol at the elevated east end of the Mall (on what was then called Jenkins' Hill); he described the site as "a pedestal waiting for a monument."
    At this time the site of the Capitol was a relative wilderness partly overgrown with scrub oak. Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, described the soil as an "exceedingly stiff clay, becoming dust in dry and mortar in rainy weather." A muddy creek with swampy borders flowed at the base of the hill, and an alder swamp bordered by tall woods occupied the place where the United States Botanic Garden now stands. The city's inhabitants, like L'Enfant and Washington, expected that the capital would grow to the east, leaving the Capitol and the White House essentially on its outskirts. For some years the land around the Capitol was regarded as a common, crossed by roads in several directions and intended to be left as an open area.
    In 1825 a plan was devised for imposing order on the Capitol grounds, and it was carried out for almost 15 years. The plan divided the area into flat, rectangular grassy areas bordered by trees, flower beds, and gravel walks. The growth of the trees, however, soon deprived the other plantings of nourishment, and the design became increasingly difficult to maintain in light of sporadic and small appropriations. John Foy, who had charge of the grounds during most of this period, was "superseded for political reasons," and the area was then maintained with little care or forethought. Many rapidly growing but short-lived trees were introduced and soon depleted the soil; a lack of proper pruning and thinning left the majority of the area's vegetation ill-grown, feeble, or dead. Virtually all was removed by the early 1870s, either to make way for building operations during Thomas U. Walter's enlargement of the Capitol or as required by changes in grading to accommodate the new work on the building or the alterations to surrounding streets.

    The mid-19th-century extension of the Capitol, in which the House and Senate wings and the new dome were added, required also that the Capitol grounds be enlarged, and in 1874 Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to plan and oversee the project. As noted above, Olmsted was determined that the grounds should complement the building. In addition, he addressed an architectural problem that had persisted for some years: from the west the direction in which the city was clearly growing the earthen terraces at the building's base made it seem inadequately supported at the top of the hill. The solution, Olmsted believed, was to construct marble terraces on the north, west, and south sides of the building, thereby causing it to "gain greatly in the supreme qualities of stability, endurance, and repose." He submitted his design for these features in 1875, and after extensive study it was approved.
    Work on the grounds began in 1874, concentrating first on the east side and then progressing to the west, north, and south sides in 1875. First, the ground was reduced in elevation. Almost 300,000 cubic yards of earth and other material were eventually removed, and over 200 trees were transplanted. New sewer, gas, and water systems were installed. The soil was then enriched with fertilizers to provide a suitable growth medium for new plantings. Paths and roadways were graded and their foundations were laid.
    By 1876, gas and water service was completed for the entire grounds, and electrical lamp-lighting apparatuses had been installed. Stables and workshops had been removed from the northwest and southwest corners. A streetcar system north and south of the west grounds had been relocated farther from the Capitol, and ornamental shelters were in place at the north and south car-track termini. The granite and bronze lamp piers and ornamental bronze lamps for the east plaza area were completed.
    Work accelerated in 1877. By this time, according to Olmsted's report, "altogether 7,837 plants and trees [had] been set out." However, not all had survived: hundreds were stolen or destroyed by vandals, and, as Olmsted explained, "a large number of cattle [had] been caught trespassing." Other work met with less difficulty. Foot-walks were laid with artificial stone, a mixture of cement and sand, and approaches were paved with concrete. An ornamental iron trellis had been installed on the northern east-side walk, and another was under way on the southern walk. An underground air duct for ventilating the Hall of the House was laid to a temporary opening in the west side of the hill.
    The 1878 appointment of watchmen to patrol the grounds was quite effective in preventing further vandalism, allowing the lawns to be completed and much shrubbery to be added. Also in that year, the roads throughout the grounds were paved.
    Most of the work required on the east side of the grounds was completed by 1879, and effort thus shifted largely to the west side. The Pennsylvania Avenue approach was virtually finished, and work on the Maryland Avenue approach had begun. The stone walls on the west side of the grounds were almost finished, and the red granite lamp piers were placed at the eastward entrance from Pennsylvania Avenue.
    In the years 1880-82, many features of the grounds were completed. These included the walls and coping around the entire perimeter, the approaches and entrances, the tower for the House air shaft, and the Summerhouse. Work on the terraces began in 1882, and most work from this point until 1892 was concentrated on these structures.
    In 1885, Olmsted retired from superintendency of the terrace project; he continued to direct the work on the grounds until 1889. Landscaping work was performed to adapt the surrounding areas to the new construction, grading the ground and planting shrubs at the bases of the walls, as the progress of the masonry work allowed. Some trees and other types of vegetation were removed, either because they had decayed or as part of a careful thinning-out process.
    In 1886, Olmsted recommended that the Senate side of the Capitol be supplied with fresh air through a duct and tower similar to those on the House side. This project was completed in 1889-90. In 1888, the wrought-iron lamp frames and railings were placed at the Maryland Avenue entrance, making it the last to be completed. In 1892, the streetcar track that had extended into grounds from Independence Avenue was removed.
    In the last years of the 19th century, work on the grounds consisted chiefly of maintenance and repairs as needed. Trees, lawns, and plantings were tended, pruned, and thinned to allow their best growth. This work was quite successful: by 1894, the grounds were so deeply shaded by trees and shrubs that Architect of the Capitol Edward Clark recommended an all-night patrol by watchmen to ensure public safety. A hurricane in September 1896 damaged or destroyed a number of trees, requiring extensive removals in the following year. Also in 1897, electric lighting replaced gas lighting in the grounds.
    Between 1910 and 1935, 61.4 acres north of Constitution Avenue was added to the grounds. Approximately 100 acres was added in subsequent years, bringing the total area to 274 acres. In 1981, the Architect of the Capitol developed the Master Plan for future development of the U.S. Capitol grounds and related areas.
    Since 1983, increased security measures have been put into effect, including the installation of barriers at vehicular entrances. However, the area still functions in many ways as a public park, and visitors are welcome to use the walks to tour the grounds. Demonstrations and ceremonies are often held on the grounds. During the summer, many high-school bands perform in front of the Capitol, and a series of evening concerts by the bands of the armed forces is offered free of charge on the east front plaza. On various holidays, concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra are held on the west front lawn.

    The U.S. Capitol Building is located in Washington, D.C., at the eastern end of the National Mall on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River, commanding a westward view across the Capitol Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial 2.2 miles away.
    Before 1791, the federal government had no permanent site. The early Congresses met in eight different cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton, and New York City. The subject of a permanent capital for the government of the United States was first raised by Congress in 1783; it was ultimately addressed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution (1787), which gave the Congress legislative authority over "such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States. ..."
    In 1788, the state of Maryland ceded to Congress "any district in this State, not exceeding ten miles square," and in 1789 the state of Virginia ceded an equivalent amount of land. In accordance with the "Residence Act" passed by Congress in 1790, President Washington in 1791 selected the area that is now the District of Columbia from the land ceded by Maryland (private landowners whose property fell within this area were compensated by a payment of £25 per acre); that ceded by Virginia was not used for the capital and was returned to Virginia in 1846. Also under the provisions of that Act, he selected three Commissioners to survey the site and oversee the design and construction of the capital city and its government buildings. The Commissioners, in turn, selected the French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant to plan the new city of Washington. L'Enfant's plan, which was influenced by the gardens at Versailles, arranged the city's streets and avenues in a grid overlaid with baroque diagonals; the result is a functional and aesthetic whole in which government buildings are balanced against public lawns, gardens, squares, and paths. The Capitol itself was located at the elevated east end of the Mall, on the brow of what was then called Jenkins' Hill. The site was, in L'Enfant's words, "a pedestal waiting for a monument."

    The United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for over two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol building has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government.
    As the focal point of the government's Legislative Branch, the U.S. Capitol Building is the centerpiece of the Capitol Campus, which includes the six principal Congressional office buildings and three Library of Congress buildings constructed on Capitol Hill in the 19th and 20th centuries.
    In addition to its active use by Congress, the Capitol building is a museum of American art and history. Each year, it is visited by an estimated 3-5 million people from around the world.
    A fine example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture, the U.S. Capitol combines function with aesthetics. Its designs derived from ancient Greece and Rome evoke the ideals that guided the nation's founders as they framed their new republic. As the building was expanded from its original design, harmony with the existing portions was carefully maintained.
    Today, the U.S. Capitol Building covers a ground area of 175,170 square feet, or about 4 acres, and has a floor area of approximately 16-1/2 acres. Its length, from north to south, is 751 feet 4 inches; its greatest width, including approaches, is 350 feet. Its height above the base line on the east front to the top of the Statue of Freedom is 288 feet; from the basement floor to the top of the dome is an ascent of 365 steps. The building contains approximately 540 rooms and has 658 windows (108 in the dome alone) and approximately 850 doorways.
    The Capitol building is divided into five levels. The first, or ground, floor is occupied chiefly by committee rooms and the spaces allocated to various congressional officers. The areas accessible to visitors on this level include the Hall of Columns, the Brumidi Corridors, the restored Old Supreme Court Chamber, and the Crypt beneath the Rotunda, where historical exhibits are presented.
    The second floor holds the Chambers of the House of Representatives (in the south wing) and the Senate (in the north wing) as well as the offices of the congressional leadership. This floor also contains three major public areas. In the center under the dome is the Rotunda, a circular ceremonial space that also serves as a gallery of paintings and sculpture depicting significant people and events in the nation's history. The Rotunda is 96 feet in diameter and rises 180 feet 3 inches to the canopy. The semicircular chamber south of the Rotunda served as the Hall of the House until 1857; now designated National Statuary Hall, it houses part of the Capitol's collection of statues donated by the states in commemoration of notable citizens. The Old Senate Chamber northeast of the Rotunda, which was used by the Senate until 1859, has been returned to its mid-19th-century appearance.
    The third floor allows access to the galleries from which visitors to the Capitol building may watch the proceedings of the House and the Senate when Congress is in session. The rest of this floor is occupied by offices, committee rooms, and press galleries.
    The fourth floor and the basement/terrace level of the U.S. Capitol are occupied by offices, machinery rooms, workshops, and other support areas.

    The Old Supreme Court Chamber is the first room constructed for the use of the nation's highest judiciary body. Built by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, it was a significant architectural achievement, for the size and structure of its vaulted, semicircular ceiling were virtually unprecedented in the United States. In addition to housing the Supreme Court, this space later served as a committee room, a law library, a meeting room, and a storage room. Today, it has been restored to its mid-19th-century appearance.
    A Description of the ChamberEntrance to the chamber is gained through the robing room at its southern end. In this room are displayed the judicial robe and a bust of Roger B. Taney, the nation's fifth chief justice, who held the post from 1836 to 1864. The coat hooks on the wall opposite the bust carry the names of the justices on the Supreme Court from 1858 to 1860 (the label "Chief" indicates Chief Justice Taney).
    The chamber is semicircular and measures 74 feet 8 inches wide and 50 feet deep. Its vaulted ceiling is divided into lobes by 10 ribs. The windows on the eastern wall originally looked out on the Capitol Plaza; because the mid 20th-century extension of the Capitol's east front blocked the windows, they are now artificially lighted. Displayed at the rear of the room are busts of the first four chief justices. From south to north, they are John Marshall, John Rutledge, John Jay, and Oliver Ellsworth.
    Over the west fireplace hangs a clock ordered for the chamber by Chief Justice Taney in 1837. Above the clock is a plaster relief sculpted in 1817 by Carlo Franzoni. The central figure in the relief is Justice, who is seated and holds a pair of scales in her left hand; her right rests upon the hilt of an unsheathed sword. Unlike many depictions of Justice, she wears no blindfold. The winged youth seated beside her is Fame, who holds up the Constitution of the United States under the rays of the rising sun. At the right side of the sculpture, an eagle protectively rests one foot upon books containing the written laws.
    In front of the eastern arcade are mahogany desks for the nine Supreme Court justices, set off from the rest of the room by a mahogany railing. Seven of these desks are 19th-century originals, believed to have been purchased for the court in the late 1830s. The chairs behind the desks represent various styles used around the year 1860; each justice selected the style of his own chair.
    Desks at either end of the row of justices' desks were used by court officials. On the justices' right sat the Attorney General and the clerk and deputy clerk of the Supreme Court. On the justices' left sat the court reporter, the marshal, and the deputy marshal.
    The floor in the central area of the chamber is approximately 1 foot lower than the level upon which the justices' desks are placed. In this area stand four baize-covered mahogany tables used by lawyers presenting cases before the Supreme Court. Facing these tables and lining the area's western end are the wooden panel-back settees provided for the audience.
    A Brief History
    In November 1806 Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the Surveyor of the Public Buildings, prepared plans for rebuilding the interior of the Capitol's north wing. Although occupied for only 6 years, this wing suffered from falling plaster, rotting floors, and a leaking roof. So poor was the original construction that, rather than making repairs, Latrobe wished to completely rebuild the interior within the existing brick and sandstone walls. An initial appropriation of $25,000 began the work, which was focused on the eastern half of the wing. Latrobe demolished the two-story Senate Chamber and the large, unfinished room above it as well as adjacent lobbies and offices. With the space cleared of all previous, inferior work, Latrobe began to rebuild it with solid, fireproof masonry vaulting.

    A significant element of Latrobe's plan was a one-story room on the ground floor intended to be used by the Supreme Court. The accommodation of the court in the Capitol had always been considered a temporary arrangement. Since 1801 the court had met in a committee room (now numbered S-146 and S-146A), while a separate building for its use was believed to be forthcoming. Latrobe could not know that the Supreme Court would continue to share quarters with the legislative branch until 1935.
    Latrobe's reconstruction of the north wing faced serious architectural and engineering challenges, especially the need to create a vaulted chamber that imposed no structural loads upon the existing walls. His solution to this problem was both effective and elegant. Parallel to the east wall he constructed a deep three-bay arcade carried on sandstone Doric columns modeled on those of the Temple of Poseidon (the shortest, and thus the strongest, columns that survive from classical Greece). He also built a semicircular arcade several feet away from the old western wall. These stout new supporting piers carried the room's most dramatic feature: a lobed, vaulted ceiling that has often been likened to an umbrella or a pumpkin. This construction technique, which is similar to medieval practice, reduced the old walls to mere screens.
    Regrettably, this impressive engineering feat cost the life of Latrobe's chief assistant. During construction the vault was supported upon a wooden centering built by John Lenthall, the Clerk of the Works. When Lenthall attempted to remove the centering prematurely, the vault collapsed, crushing him under its weight.
    Latrobe's reputation was severely damaged by this accident, but he persevered in his efforts to make the Supreme Court Chamber both beautiful and durable. Some measure of his success may be seen in the fact that the chamber survived the efforts of British troops to burn it on August 24, 1814. For the sake of safety, however, Latrobe dismantled the vault and built it for the third and last time as part of the repairs to the Capitol that he began in 1815.
    After Latrobe's resignation in 1817, work on the chamber continued under architectCharles Bulfinch. Bulfinch was able to complete it in time for the court session that began in February 1819.
    For the next 41 years, the Supreme Court met in this chamber. During that time numerous landmark decisions were handed down from the bench, including Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Dred Scott v. Sandford. In 1860 the court moved upstairs into the room vacated by the Senate. The Old Supreme Court Chamber was then used as a law library. An 1898 gas explosion in the sub-basement southwest of the chamber, and the ensuing fire, inflicted some damage on the floors, furnishings, and books in the library. The Supreme Court vacated the Capitol in 1935, and the room was used for a reference library until the 1940s. From 1955 to 1960 the chamber was assigned to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. It was next converted to a storeroom, and it served this purpose until Congress voted for its restoration in 1972.
    Extensive research and planning preceded the restoration. An 1854 diagram was discovered that proved invaluable in establishing the architectural layout and furniture arrangement of the room. A portrait depicting Chief Justice Marshall seated in the chamber provided visual documentation for the re-creation of the carpet and the mahogany rails. A descendant of the Clerk of the Court provided Chief Justice Taney's desk and the original marshal's desk. The Supreme Court and the Senate Sergeant at Arms transferred cabinets, chairs, desks, and other items formerly used by the Court. Original fixtures and furnishings that could not be located were replicated according to the best available historical evidence. After years of painstaking work, the restored chamber was opened to the public in May 1975. Today it is used primarily as a museum, recreating the scene of many significant moments in the evolution of the United States Supreme Court and the judicial history of the nation.

    ...ol. 51, No. 225. TWENTY PAGES SATURDAY EVENING, JANUARY 4, 1930. Gloversville NY Morning Herald 1930 Grayscale - 0040.pdf

    The first Attending Physician of the Capitol, Dr. George Calver once quipped, “I’m the only man [the Members] can’t talk back to on Capitol Hill.”

    February 3, 1951
    A Doctor's Warning
    New York Times clip, 1951
    New York Times 1951

    In December 1928, one House member dropped dead and two others collapsed from causes attributed to overwork. Although officials in each case immediately summoned medical assistance from city hospitals, several hours passed before a physician arrived to render aid. In 1928 alone, incumbent members of the Senate and House were dying at the appalling rate of almost 20 per year.
    On December 5, 1928, the House passed a resolution directing the secretary of the navy to detail a medical officer to be present near the House Chamber while that body was in session. The secretary assigned Dr. George Calver, who initially took up residence in the House Democratic cloakroom. Not to be outdone by the House in a gesture of concern for the well-being of its members, the Senate in April 1930 adopted a concurrent resolution extending Dr. Calver's jurisdiction to its premises. Although the House subsequently ignored that concurrent resolution, the navy secretary, on the strength of the Senate's action, directed Dr. Calver to "look after both houses." Thus was born the Office of Attending Physician, which moved to two ground-floor rooms in its current location near the midpoint of the Capitol's west-front corridor. Within several months, both houses recognized the office's existence by providing funding for its operations.
    Soon after he took office in the darkest days of the Great Depression, Dr. Calver earned national headlines with a stern warning to members. Following the collapse of the House Ways and Means Committee chairman during an influenza outbreak, and the sidelining of dozens of senators and representatives, Calver cautioned against overdoing committee work.
    The Congress that began in December 1931 suffered a particularly large toll. Before it was four months old, that body witnessed the deaths of four senators and 16 representatives. Many others took to their beds under a legislative strain that long-serving members considered unprecedented.
    For the next 35 years, until his retirement in 1966, Dr. Calver routinely captured national media attention with his advice to hardworking members. On February 3, 1951, the New York Times Magazine reported on his "nine commandments of health," which were printed on large placards and displayed throughout the Capitol. They included: "Eat wisely, drink plentifully (of water!). Play enthusiastically, and relax completely. Stay out of the Washington social whirl—go out at night twice a week at most." His ultimate advice: "Don't let yourself get off-balance, nervous, and disturbed over things."

    David Lynn in 1923

     David Lynn (November 10, 1873 in Wheeling, West Virginia – May 25, 1961 in Washington D.C.) was an American architect and honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.
    David Lynn was a 21-year veteran of the Architect's staff before being appointed Architect of the Capitol in 1923. His appointment was made by President Calvin Coolidge on August 22, 1923.
    During Lynn's administration, four major buildings were added to the Capitol complex: the Longworth House Office Buildingthe Supreme Court Building, the Annex (Adams Building) of the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory.
    In addition, the First Street wing of the Russell Building was built, the Capitol Power Plant was enlarged, and construction on the Dirksen Senate Office Building was begun. The Capitol Grounds were again expanded and underground parking for theUnited States Senate employees was provided. Lynn also supervised a major remodeling of the House and Senate Chambers between 1949 and 1951. David Lynn retired on September 30, 1954.

    Portrait of David Lynn
    David Lynn Portrait by Charles J. Fox, 1954

    Architects of the Capitol
    Dr. William Thornton
    Benjamin Henry Latrobe
    Charles Bulfinch
    Thomas Ustick Walter
    Edward Clark
    Elliott Woods
    David Lynn
    J. George Stewart
    George M. White, FAIA
    Alan M. Hantman, FAIA
    Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, LEED AP

    Portaits of the Architects of the Capitol
    Portrait of Dr. William Thornton
    Portrait of Benjamin Henry Latrobe
    Portrait of Charles Bulfinch
    Portrait of Thomas Ustick Walter
    Portrait of Edward Clark
    Portrait of Elliott Woods
    Portrait of David Lynn
    Portrait of J. George Stewart
    Portrait of George M. White, FAIA
    Portrait of Alan M. Hantman, FAIA

    Dr. William Thornton
    Born: May 20, 1759, Jost van Dyke, West Indies
    Died: March 28, 1828, Washington, D.C.
    Design selected by President George Washington, 1793; appointed a commissioner of the federal city by President Washington, 1794, and served until 1802
    Thornton's work at the Capitol
    During Thornton's tenure at the Capitol the north wing (shown in blue) was constructed.
    Dr. William Thornton was an amateur architect who is honored as the "first architect" because his design for the Capitol was accepted by President George Washington in 1793. He received $500 and a building lot in the city of Washington for his composition. He held no government position as a result of winning the architectural competition.
    Thornton was born on May 20, 1759, in the British West Indies, and received a medical degree from the University of Aberdeen. He became an American citizen in 1787 and moved to Washington in 1794, when President Washington appointed him one of the city’s commissioners. In 1802 President Jefferson appointed him head of the Patent Office, an office he held until his death in 1828.

    During the first decade of work on the Capitol, three men were hired to oversee the construction.
    Stephen Hallet was a professionally trained architect who placed second in the Capitol’s design competition, yet was given a monetary prize equal to Thornton’s award. Hallet is credited with revising the floor plans of the Capitol’s two wings. He was placed in charge at the beginning of construction in 1793 and was dismissed by the commissioners in 1794 for insubordination.
    Born in Paris in 1755, Hallet came to America around 1790 and worked for Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the engineer who designed the city of Washington. Before, during, and after the Capitol design competition Hallet is known to have developed at least five designs. Little is known of Hallet’s post-Washington career. He died in 1825 in New Rochelle, New York.
    George Hadfield was hired by the commissioners in 1795 to be Hallet’s successor. He began his employment by suggesting major alterations to the Capitol’s design and was ultimately rebuffed. In 1798 he designed the first office buildings for cabinet departments, and when he refused to surrender the plans, the commissioners dismissed him.
    Born of English parents in Italy in1763, Hadfield studied architecture at the Royal Academy in London and served six years under James Wyatt, one of England’s great neoclassical architects. Hadfield remained in Washington after leaving the Capitol, designing such notable landmarks as "Arlington" (the Custis-Lee Mansion), and City Hall. He died in 1826.
    James Hoban was the architect of the President’s House and oversaw construction of that building as well as the Capitol. Hoban supervised both Hallet and Hadfield, and when the latter was dismissed in 1798, he took over the day-to-day operations on Capitol Hill. He supervised the completion of the north wing and designed its interior finish.
    Born in 1758, Hoban studied architecture at the Dublin Society School. He emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia in 1785, and moved two years later to South Carolina, where he is credited with the re-ordering of the former statehouse in Charleston as a county courthouse (1790-1791, restored 1999). In 1792 he won the competition for the President’s House and began his long association with the public buildings in Washington. He died in 1831.

    Benjamin Henry Latrobe
    Born: May 1, 1764, near Leeds, England
    Died: September 3, 1820, New Orleans, Louisiana
    Hired by President Thomas Jefferson, March 6, 1803; construction halted by July 1, 1811
    Hired by President James Madison, April 6, 1815
    Resigned November 20, 1817
    Latrobe's work at the Capitol
    Latrobe constructed the Capitol's south wing (shown in blue) as well as rebuilding the interior of the north wing.
    B. Henry Latrobe was hired by President Jefferson in 1803 to fill the position of "Surveyor of Public Buildings," with the principal responsibility of constructing the Capitol’s south wing. He was also responsible for work at the President’s House and the Navy Yard. After the south wing was completed in 1807 Latrobe began reconstructing the interior of the north wing. Construction funds were withheld after 1810, and Latrobe’s public employment came to an end. After the two wings were damaged by fires set by British troops in 1814, Latrobe was hired to oversee restoration. During this period he worked only on the Capitol and had no responsibilities for other government buildings. Latrobe’s employment contract was signed with the commissioners on April 18, 1815, and he resigned on November 20, 1817. He left at the Capitol some of the greatest interiors in the history of neoclassicism in America, including the Hall of the House (now National Statuary Hall), the Old Senate Chamber, and the Old Supreme Court Chamber.
    Born in 1764 near Leeds, England, Latrobe studied architecture under Samuel Pepys Cockerell and engineering under John Smeaton. He emigrated in 1796 and began his American career in Virginia before settling in Philadelphia. There he designed the Bank of Pennsylvania, the first neoclassical building in the United States to display a Grecian order. In 1820 he died in New Orleans, where he had gone to build the city’s municipal water system.

    Charles Bulfinch
    Born: August 8, 1763, Boston, Massachusetts
    Died: April 15, 1844, Boston, Massachusetts
    Appointed by President James Monroe and the Commissioner of Public Buildings, January 8, 1818
    Office abolished June 25, 1829
    Bulfinch's work at the Capitol
    Bulfinch constructed the Capitol's central section (shown in blue), including the Rotunda and the original dome.

    Charles Bulfinch was hired by the commissioner of public buildings in 1818 to replace Latrobe. He continued the restoration of the two wings, which were reopened in 1819. Bulfinch designed the domed center building and oversaw its construction between 1818 and 1826. He also planned the Capitol Grounds and the original west terraces. After the Capitol was finished, President Andrew Jackson terminated the architect’s position on June 30, 1829.
    Bulfinch was among the first American-born architects of distinction. Born in Boston in 1763, he graduated from Harvard, and studied European buildings using an itinerary drawn up by Thomas Jefferson. He became famous in New England for elegant private residences, churches, and public buildings. His most famous commission was the Massachusetts Statehouse of 1795–1798. Following his Washington career Bulfinch retired to Boston, where he died in 1844.
    From 1816 to 1867 supervision and maintenance of the Capitol were directed by the Commissioner of Public Buildings. Minor architectural services were regularly provided by Robert Mills and other Washington architects between 1829 and 1851, when there was no Capitol architect.

    Thomas Ustick Walter
    Born: September 4, 1804, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Died: October 30, 1887, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Appointed by President Millard Fillmore, June 11, 1851
    Resigned May 26, 1865
    Walter added the present north (Senate) and south (House) wings and the present cast-iron dome (shown in blue).
    Walter added the present north (Senate) and south (House) wings and the present cast-iron dome (shown in blue).

    Thomas U. Walter’s plans for the enlargement of the Capitol were approved by President Millard Fillmore and he was appointed Architect of the Capitol Extension in 1851. While he oversaw the construction of new marble wings, the commissioner of public buildings maintained the existing Capitol and the surrounding grounds. Walter also designed a new cast-iron dome, which was authorized in 1855.
    Walter’s office was originally placed under the Department of the Interior. From 1853 until 1862 it was under the War Department and was overseen by two army engineers: Montgomery C. Meigs (1853–1859; 1861–1862) and William B. Franklin (1859–1861). Work was suspended for a year at the outbreak of the Civil War; when it resumed in 1862, Walter’s office was again placed under the Department of the Interior.
    Born in Philadelphia in 1804, Walter worked for his father as a bricklayer and later studied architecture under William Strickland (a former pupil of B. Henry Latrobe). His design for Girard College for Orphans (1832) was his most important early commission. He was one of the founders and second president of the American Institute of Architects. After his Washington career ended in 1865, Walter retired briefly before financial reversals forced him back to work. He was the chief assistant to the architect of the Philadelphia City Hall from 1873 until his death in 1887.

    Edward Clark
    Born: August 15, 1822, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Died: January 6, 1902, Washington, D.C.
    Appointed by President Andrew Johnson, August 30, 1865
    Died in office, January 6, 1902

    Edward Clark was appointed Architect of the Capitol Extension in 1865 by President Andrew Johnson to fill the vacancy caused by Thomas U. Walter’s resignation. Under way for over 14 years, the interior of the Capitol extension was at this point complete, and only the outside porticoes needed to be finished.
    In 1867, with the completion of the Capitol extension fast approaching, Congress directed Clark to take over the Capitol-related responsibilities formerly held by the commissioner of public buildings. Thus, he would take responsibility for the care and maintenance of the Capitol and its grounds. Clark’s title soon changed to Architect of the Capitol, dropping the word "Extension" to reflect the broader responsibilities of the new office. Clark is considered the first Architect of the Capitol as the term refers to the head of a congressional agency.
    Born in Philadelphia in 1822, Clark came to Washington as an architectural student in Walter’s office and served in various capacities during his master’s tenure. In his own term he completed the Capitol extension and new dome projects and oversaw the construction of the western terraces that were designed by the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Also during his administration, the Library of Congress moved to its own building, and the west central interior of the Capitol was reconstructed. Clark died in 1902 while still in office.

    Elliot Woods
    Born: February 2, 1865 near Manchester, England
    Died: May 22, 1923, Spring Lake, New Jersey
    Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt, February 19, 1902
    Died in office May 22, 1923

    Elliott Woods was appointed "Superintendent of the Capitol Building and Grounds" in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt to fill the vacancy caused by Edward Clark’s death. Because Woods was not an architect, the name of the office was changed to "Superintendent." The title reverted to "Architect of the Capitol" in 1921 as a way of honoring Woods, who had successfully managed the construction of the monumental House and Senate Office Buildings (now called the Cannon House Office Building and the Russell Senate Office Building) and the Capitol Power Plant.
    Born in England during his parents’ travel abroad in 1865, Woods had a high school education. He joined Clark’s office in 1885 and worked his way up to become chief assistant and de facto head of the agency during the last few years of Clark’s life. His appointment was greeted with skepticism by the architectural community, but Woods proved to be an effective administrator and was popular in Congress. He died in office in 1923.

    David Lynn
    Born: November 10, 1873, Wheeling, West Virginia
    Died: May 25, 1961, Washington, D.C.
    Appointed by President Calvin Coolidge, August 22, 1923
    Retired September 30, 1954

    David Lynn was appointed Architect of the Capitol in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge to fill the vacancy caused by Elliott Woods’s death. Like his predecessor, Lynn was not an architect but had worked his way up through the ranks to become the agency’s number one assistant at the time of his predecessor’s death. Lynn’s tenure was marked by the growth of the Capitol grounds and the construction of major buildings for the House of Representatives (the Longworth House Office Building), the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Botanic Garden. In addition, the First Street wing of the Russell Building was built, the Capitol Power Plant was enlarged, and construction on the Dirksen Senate Office Building was begun. The Capitol Grounds were again expanded, and underground parking for Senate employees was provided. Lynn also supervised the redesign and reconstruction of the House and Senate Chambers.
    Born in 1873 in West Virginia and raised in Maryland, Lynn started his career at the Capitol soon after finishing high school. He began as a laborer and rose to the rank of engineer by 1910. After thirty-one years as head of the agency, Lynn retired in 1954 and died in 1961.

    January 4, 1930, The Kingston Daily Freeman, Page 10, Column 7, Caused By Spontaneous Combustion or Smoking.Washington. Jan. 4 (AP).—Charles Moberly, capitol artist, in whose studio the fire began that turned the dome of the capitol into a torch for a time last night, was questioned today by David S. Lynn, capitol architect, but threw little light upon the blaze. Moberly, who was found unconscious in his smoke filled room by firemen, appeared very nervous and said he did not know how the fire began and told Lynn that he seldom used cigarettes but smoked a pipe or cigar occasionally. The theory had been entertained that a cigarette, cigar or match carelessly tossed away might have smouldered until it burst into flame.

    Another cause was seen possible when Moberly told Lynn that the fire might have begun from a pail of oil-soaked waste in the studio. He explained he used the waste in cleaning and retouching pictures and said that in addition to being" permeated with oil it contained certain chemicals used in retouching pictures.

    "It settles down to one of two things," Lynn said "It caused by spontaneous combustion or from someone smoking" that the investigation will be continued, and that it will issue a detailed report.

    THE KNICKERBOCKER PRESS, Albany, New York, January 4, 1930
    "Fire Sweeps U.S. Capitol at Washington. Flames Sear Upper Floors, Passing Dome. Document Room Wrecked by Blaze in House Quarters; Historic Papers May Have Been Destroyed. Thousands See Fire Creep Through Dome. Capitol Artist Found Overcome; Damage Is Believed To Be Slight."

    This followed by a matter of days a fire in the Hoover's executive offices? Not a fire in the kitchen mind you, or basement boiler room, or even in the bowling alley. Rather, in the center of power, a space which must ought never be emptied of all activity, with the most elaborate standing safety, protection and precaution measures--if not against fire per se, than Communists at a minimum.

    What is an "artist" doing at "night" in "his room" so situated in the Capitol that his mishap could destroy "historic" papers?

    Clerk of the House Patrick Magruder, May 24, 1813. On the opening day of the 13th Congress (1813–1815), Patrick Magruder of Maryland was elected to a fourth consecutive term as Clerk of the House. But his fortunes changed when British forces sacked the capital city in August 1814. Popular and respected, Magruder first was chosen to serve as Clerk shortly after losing his House seat in the 1806 elections. In August 1814, Magruder was on leave for a protracted illness when British forces arrived. The invaders torched the Capitol, destroying much of the building, many congressional documents, and the holdings of the Library of Congress (at that time, the Clerk of the House was also the Librarian of Congress). Afterwards, Members were incensed that Magruder’s staff (then led in an acting capacity by his brother, George) had failed to save vital House records, including receipts and vouchers for congressional accounts. These had been locked in a desk and destroyed in the fire (apparently the only federal financial records lost to invading British forces). To clear his name, Magruder requested an internal investigation. House Speaker Langdon Cheves of South Carolina appointed a select investigatory committee chaired by Congressman Joseph Pearson of North Carolina. The committee discovered several financial discrepancies, including what it claimed to be nearly $20,000 in missing funds. Magruder addressed a letter to Speaker Cheves in December 1814 refuting the charges. But less than a month later, on January 21, 1815, Representative James Clark of Kentucky introduced a resolution to remove Magruder from office. Though the House postponed the vote for a week, Magruder resigned days later. In a letter to the Speaker, he professed "my entire innocence and ignorance of any misapplication of the public moneys," and further defended his brother by noting that he could have accounted for all his expenditures "had not the unfortunate conflagration of the Capitol destroyed his accounts." Patrick Magruder retired to his wife’s family plantation near Petersburg, Virginia, where he died in 1819.

    The First Congress (1789–1791) adopted many of the traditions of colonial parliamentary bodies and the British Parliament, including the use of a ceremonial mace by the Sergeant at Arms to symbolize the national legislature’s power. The House declared on April 14, 1789, that, "A proper symbol of office shall be provided for the Sergeant at Arms, of such form and device as the Speaker shall direct, which shall be borne by the Sergeant when in the execution of his office." The original House Mace was destroyed when British forces burned the Capitol in 1814.

    The Mace, which symbolizes the authority of House of Representatives, resides near the Speakers rostrum while the House is in session.

    Library Images Historic Print (M): Chas. Moberly

    Sam Houston of Tennessee served two terms in the House before being elected Governor of Tennessee and Senator from Texas.

    A duel involving Representative Sam Houston of Texas

    September 22, 1826

    On this date, just after sunrise on the Linkumpinch dueling field near Franklin, Kentucky, Representative Sam Houston of Tennessee gravely wounded General William A. White, a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans, in a pistol duel. In a convoluted turn of events, White was the stand-in for Nashville Postmaster John P. Erwin. Patronage politics were at the root of this affair of honor. Andrew Jackson of Tennessee had promoted another candidate for Nashville postmaster against Erwin (the son-in-law of Jackson’s nemesis, Henry Clay of Kentucky). Jackson encouraged Houston to thwart Erwin’s appointment. Houston wrote to President John Quincy Adams, that Erwin “is not a man of fair and upright moral character.” He also attacked Erwin in a speech on the House Floor. When Houston returned to Tennessee after the 19th Congress (1825–1827), Erwin dispatched Colonel John Smith T., a professional duelist, to deliver a challenge to Houston for besmirching Erwin’s character. That challenge was rejected, but General White then proceeded to challenge Houston, who reluctantly accepted. Houston prepared by practicing his marksmanship at Jackson’s home, The Hermitage. Old Hickory even advised him to bite on a bullet while dueling: “It will make you aim better.”  On the appointed morning, Houston and White squared off at 15 paces. Houston emerged unscathed.  White, struck in the groin, called out to Houston, “you have killed me.” White survived, but in June 1827 a Kentucky grand jury delivered a felony indictment against Houston, who had left the House to campaign for governor of Tennessee. The state’s sitting governor, William Carroll (whom Houston succeeded that October), refused to arrest or extradite Houston arguing that he had acted in self defense.


    January 4, 1930, New York Times, Page 1, Fire Menaces the Capitol But is Quickly Subdued, Historic Documents Saved, Flames Light Up Dome, Start in Decorator's Studio Under Roof in the West Wing. Jump to Document Room, Artist, Found Stupefied in Smoke, Tells Incoherent Story of What He Saw. Throngs Watch Spectacle. Damage Put at $3,000---Blaze Comes Ten Days After Executive Offices Fire.

    Washington, Jan. 3.---Fire tonight damaged the Capitol and for a time threatened the historic structure with the most serious danger it has faced since British soldiers set fire to both wings in 1814.

    Tonight's fire came just ten days after the Christmas Eve fire which destroyed the office wing of the White House, where, by coincidence, many surplus documents were stored in attic stories under the roof of the White House.

    "This is more than a coincidence!" exclaimed Senator Vandenberg of Michigan, arriving at the Capitol from a dinner table which he had deserted.

    Officials at the Capitol felt certain, however, that the fire was not incendiary, but was probably caused by a smoldering butt of a cigar or cigarette.

    David Lynn, architect of the Capitol, said tonight that this was the first serious fire in the Capitol in thirty years, the last having been one in 1900 which seriously damaged the roof and gutted the chamber of the Supreme Court. There have been a few minor fires, none causing serious damage.

    Five Alarms Are Sounded.

    The first alarm, sounded at 6:45 P. M., was followed by four others. The fire men who sped to Capitol Hill, accompanied by a large part of the city's population, had the blaze under control in about half an hour, although late this evening smoke still swirled around the electrically lighted dome.

    The fire started in what is known as the 'model' room immediately adjoining the supplemental or reserve document room on the fourth floor, in that part of the main building proper on the west side, just south of and adjacent to the main rotunda and dome and immediately under the roof. A sheet of flame and a cloud of smoke burst through the roof to apprise the citizens, with the fire in the White House office building still fresh in their minds, that another blaze was menacing a government building.

    Sight Was Spectacular.

    Although the sight was a spectacular one, with firemen swarming over and through the building, on which they played searchlights, and running ladders and hose lines to every window, it was estimated tonight that the actual damage was only $3,000. While the flames spread from the "model" room into the reserve document room, they were brought under control before much damage was done in the latter place. The chief damage, it is believed, will be found to have been caused by water.

    Some damage was done by water to th rooms of the House Committee on Banking and Currency on the third floor and also to some of the offices of the Supreme Court.

    When the first Capitol policemen entered the 'model' room they found Charles Moberly, an artist, lying there apparently overcome by smoke. He is attached to the staff of Mr. Lynn and had been employed in retouching frescoes in the Senate wing and portraits and other paintings which had been taken from various parts of the Capitol to the so-called 'model' room for restoration.

    Tells Incoherent Story.

    Mr. Lynn said he assumed that Mr. Moberly had been smoking and that a smoldering cigar or cigarette might have been the cause of the fire. Moberly was unable, after being rescued, to tell a coherent story of what occurred.

    Moberly told Lieut. Commander Calber, the House physician, who attended him in the office of Representative Garner of Texas, that he had gone from the Senate end of the Capitol to the document room, which he used as a studio. As he sat down he suddenly saw flames all around him. The next thing he knew he was in Representative Garner's office, two floors below.

    Moberly talked incoherently as a result, according to Fire Department officials, of the smoke he had inhaled. He insisted he had not been smoking and had not gone to sleep and that he could not tell what happened before he realized that the room was in flames. At first he said he never smoked cigarettes, only cigars. Then he said he did not smoke at all. The physician said it would be futile to ask him questions until he had fully recovered from his experience.

    Mr. Lynn said it was not usual for Moberly to work at night unless he had a rush job.

    "I don't know if he was working," he added. "He had no rush job that I know of."

    The architect said he would start an investigation as to the origin of the fire tomorrow morning. An inquiry by Congress as to the cause of the blaze also may be undertaken.

    Moberly, now chief decorator, has been a decorator at the Capitol for twenty years. He is 61 years old.

    Fears Loss of Paintings.

    Mr. Lynn feared that valuable paintings, supposed to have been in the "model" room, were destroyed. These included portraits of former Secretaries of War and State and Justices of the Court of Claims.

    John Heinberger, a Capitol policeman, stationed outside the building on the eastern front, seeing smoke pouring from the upper story, ran into the building and upstairs, where he was joined by John L. Bass, another Capitol policeman. At that time they thought the fire was in the document room. Continuing upstairs, they entered the reserve document room, immediately under the roof, and passed through it to the model room.

    Entering the "model" room, they found the flames there and Moberly. They dragged him downstairs and turned him over to William G. Hatcher of Mr. Garner's secretarial staff and Ralph G. Bray of Mission, Texas, a friend of Mr. Garner. They helped to revive Moberly.

    Meanwhile the grounds east of the Capitol had filled with a throng such as turns out for an inauguration, and practically all the fire-fighting machinery of the city was in action, under command of Chief George S. Watson.

    Valuable Papers Endangered.

    The "model" room is separated from the reserve document room by a partition only a quarter of an inch thick and the flames soon licked through this and spread to the documents on the shelving at the end of the room nearest the studio room, in which there were oils and paints, as well as a model of the Capitol Building and valuable portraits.

    The reserve document room, in which there are stored millions of copies of Congressional documents, some of them dating back many decades, is a commodious place, in which the danger of fire spreading is great, once it is started.

    The documents were not in steel cases but were stacked on long rows of shelves. That the fire did not do tremendous damage is considered almost a miracle.

    Most of the documents stored there are printed ones, and William Tyler Page, clerk of the House, said they were not of great historical value. There were in the room also some overflow documents from the Senate library and the main document room, which were of great value, some of them running back to the time of George Washington. These were not reached by the fire.

    Lights Still Burn in Dome.

    Flames pouring from the top of the Capitol, visible from Pennsylvania Avenue and other thoroughfares leading toward the building, drew thousands of spectators to the scene. Almost every article of fire apparatus in the city was massed in the east plaza, where the great quadrennial inagural pageants occur, and which tonight was as light as day under the glare of great flood lights which were used by the firemen to illuminate the building. The dome itself was still lighted by the battery of searchlights which illuminate it every night.

    Billows of smoke poured from the roof of the building and made the conflagration appear even more serious than it actually was, so far as the apparent extent of the damage is concerned. Firemen ran long ladders up to the roof of the building and carried hose lines there so as to be able to drench the model room with water.

    Precautions Urged Repeatedly

    The fire called attention once more to the haphazard manner in which some of the most precious documents in the possession of the government are kept, for it was pointed out that had fire broken out in the exactly corresponding space on the Senate side of the building, precious papers dating back a century might have been destroyed. Original messages of the Presidents since Washington and other documents, some of them most valuable government papers, would have been threatened with destruction. These priceless Senate documents are packed away in the Senate "attic" in flimsy tin boxes.

    Mr. Lynn and his immediate predecessor in office, the late Elliot Woods, have repeatedly recommended that Congress make provision for modern steel filing cases and other fireproof equipment in which to place these overflow documents and reduce the fire hazard, which is at all times present in that portion of the Capitol building.

    Mr. Lynn was unable to state definitely tonight exactly what, and how many, portraits were in the model room or studio to be retouched by the artist at the time the fire started. He said that there had been there recently eight to ten portraits of former Secretaries of State and War, which had been sent from the State, War and Navy Building, and also some portraits of justices of the Court of Claims. It is definitely known that a portrait of Mr. Lynn was destroyed.

    A plaster cast model of the Capitol, ten or twelve feet long, an exact duplicate of the one now on exhibition at the Spanish exposition at Seville, Spain, was practically destroyed.

    The reserve document room itself was damaged very little.Some of the documents were thrown down on the floor and trampled by firemen or damaged by water. The skylight above the studio was shattered, not a pane of glass remaining in it. Charred beams around the sides of the studio bore witness to the fierceness of the fire. Heat could be felt through the Capitol for some time after the blaze was under control, and the whole building had the sickening smell of burnt and water-soaked wood long afterward.

    The marble floors of the main rotunda were running with water and streams formed in various small passageways. The folding doors that gave entrance to the eastern side of the rotunda had been arranged so that many lines of hose could be run in on that floor. Broken glass from doors was scattered around the main entrance to the rotunda.

    Hose lines wriggled across the broad Capitol plaza like so many worms, water spurting from the connections of many of these to wet the plaza like a downpour of rain.

    Firemen were allowed to move free and unhampered in the plaza, as the crowd was kept back by police squads which rushed to the Capitol immediately after the alarm was sounded. Automobiles were detoured around the Capitol grounds in each direction and were not permitted to go near the building.

    Hoover Gets Details by Phone.

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (AP).---President Hoover, whose personal experience with fires was refreshed last week by the blaze in his own offices at the White House, took an especial interest in the spectacle tonight at the Capitol.

    He instructed one of the White House aides to get the details. The telephone operator at the Capitol, while being besieged with calls from Senators and Representatives, connected the White House with the office of Representative Garner of Texas. There David Lynn, the Capitol architect, gave the details for relay to Mr. Hoover.

    January 5, 1930, New York Times, Page 1,  Blaze in Capitol Remains Unsolved, Architect Reports Cigarette or Spontaneous Combustion as the Probable Cause. Artist Tells His Story. Denies Smoking as Does Friend Who Found Him Asleep and Tried to Put Out Fire.

    Washington, Jan. 4 -- The cause of the fire which last night threatened for a time to do serious damage to the historic Capitol building remained in doubt today. After an investigation David Lynn, architect of the Capitol, reached the conclusion that the blaze was started by a lighted cigar or cigarette butt dropped inadvertently in the studio room under the roof or from spontaneous combustion in some of the painting materials used there.

    Mr. Lynn stated this opinion officially to Speaker Longworth and Vice President Curtis after he had examined Charles E. Moberly, the artist who, unconscious from smoke, was carried from the studio room soon after the flames were discovered. He reported at the architect's office in good physical condition this morning, Mr. Lynn said, despite his experience.

    A friend of the artist, Sam Hall, told Mr. Lynn that, calling to see Mr. Moberly, he found the artist leaning over his desk in the studio, fast asleep. Hall did not wake him but picked up a paper and started reading. He smelled smoke and then saw it coming from under the thin partition which separates the studio from the reserve document storage room.

    Mr. Hall found a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the flames, but failing, called to the operator of a small elevator that runs from the corridor off the rotunda and told him to sound an alarm. Meantime, Capitol police had arrived and they tried to arouse Mr. Moberly, who had been overcome with smoke. They carried him to the office of Representative Garner of Texas.

    Mr. Lynn made public a written statement giving Mr. Moberly's version of his movements up to the time he was overcome. It read:

    "Mr. Moberly states that he went to the studio between 2 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the fire after doing some work in the Senate wing of the Capitol. He began working on drawings and putting away material and straightening up around the studio.

    "Around 4 o'clock he fell asleep on his desk. He was awakened by a noise which sounded like some one trying to break in. He rushed to the inner door leading to the model room and opened it. The flames were so intense at this time that he was overcome and does not remember anything until he came to on a couch in Representative Garner's office. He states that the reason he stayed in the studio on this particular afternoon was because he lives alone and it was lonesome in his living quarters. He would rather remain in his studio and work to pass the time away.

    "Mr. Moberly states that a tub of rags was near a wooden table in the model room. These rages were waste, soaked with oil. Fresh rags had been put there in the afternoon. He does not when the tub was last emptied. He states that it is customary to pour water into this tub to prevent fires, but does not recall that water was put in there on this particular day. He states that he did not place the rags in the tub, but that the other Capitol artist had been restoring some paintings with a special preparation composed of inflammable materials in the morning.

    "Mr. Moberly further states that he is not a smoker and had not been smoking at any time during the day of the fire. No other person was in the studio after 4 o'clock, other than Mr. Moberly, he states, to the best of his knowledge and belief."

    Mr. Lynn said that he asked Mr. Moberly about rumors that he had been drinking and was told by Mr. Moberly that he had "taken a couple of drinks about 12:30 but no more."

    Mr. Hal also declared that he had not smoked while he was in the studio.

    Most of the damage investigation today showed, was confined to the artist's quarters where the fire started and to which it was confined. Some documents in the storage room, nearest the studio entrance, were damaged by water and smoke, but none of them was considered of much worth. They were largely copies of printed documents which can easily be replaced. The total damage was not increased above the $3,000 estimate of yesterday. The government carries no insurance.

    A number of portraits which Mr. Moberly and the other artist were retouching were counted as lost. Mr. Lynn still was uncertain as to the exact number destroyed. Among them, he thought, were eight or ten portraits of justices of the Court of Claims and perhaps two or three from the State Department.

    View of the U.S. Capitol during the fire which destroyed the studio of Artist Chas. Moberly & considerably damaged the House Document Room - fire engines with ladders going up the side of the Capitol

    Title: View of the U.S. Capitol during the fire which destroyed the studio of Artist Chas. Moberly & considerably damaged the House Document Room - fire engines with ladders going up the side of the Capitol. Date Created/Published: 1930 Jan. 4. Source: Library of Congress.

    The Capitol’s first Attending Physician, Dr. George Calver

    October 11, 1966

    On this date, the first Attending Physician of the Capitol retired. Before 1928, Members of Congress relied solely on area hospitals for medical treatment. Prompted by the slow response to assist several Members who fell ill during the 70th Congress (1927–1929), the House passed a resolution on December 5, 1928, directing the Secretary of the Navy to assign a medical officer to provide health care for Representatives. Dr. George Calver, a George Washington University School of Medicine graduate, received the three-year assignment. Calver immediately began an aggressive campaign to advise Members of the perils of their fast-paced work environment, which he maintained was one of the more strenuous occupations in the country. His quality care prompted the Senate to adopt a concurrent resolution in April 1930 that instructed Calver to oversee the well-being of both Representatives and Senators—a development which led to the creation of the Office of the Attending Physician. “To me there’s no difference between a Republican bellyache and a Democratic bellyache,” Calver once remarked. His great popularity, rooted in his nonpartisan treatment of his patients, led Congress to pass legislation to prevent his reassignment, increase his rank, and provide for a raise. Calver’s grim warnings to Members—especially during the Great Depression—received national press coverage. His preventive approach to medicine was best captured in his legendary “Commandments of Health.” Prominently posted throughout the Capitol, Calver’s nine commandments directed Members to exercise, eat well, and “relax completely.” Reflecting upon his nearly four decade career—which spanned eight Speakers of the House fromNicholas Longworth of Ohio to John McCormack of Massachusetts —Calver took some of his own advice when he proclaimed, “it’s time for a rest and some fishing.”

    The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol

    January 03, 1930

    At 7 pm on this date, two Capitol Police officers discovered a fire in the art restoration and modeling room in the Capitol. Located in an attic space near the dome, the fire illuminated the cold night sky. More than 27 fire crews from around the region responded to the fire alarms.The fire was confined to the room used by Carl Moberly, a resident artist at the Capitol. Water and smoke caused $3,000 in damages to a number of federal building models as well as portraits of federal judges which were undergoing restoration. A replica of the Capitol model (the original was at the Seville Exposition in Spain) suffered extensive damage. Moberly was discovered unconscious on the floor of the room by Sidney Mitchell, superintendent of the House document folding room. He was taken to the office of RepresentativeJohn Garner of Texas and treated by Dr. George W. Calver, the House naval physician and the future Attending Physician of the Capitol. After administering first aid, Dr. Calver evaluated Mr. Moberly and determined he was “in such condition that anything he might say as to the origin of the fire could not be depended upon.” Moberly was transferred to a local hospital.  Despite the difficult physical location of the blaze, firemen managed to extinguish it in less than an hour. To add to the chaos, thousands of spectators descended on the Capitol grounds joining a pack of movie newsreel photographers. Throughout the night, the Capitol Police maintained a perimeter around the building to keep crowds away.

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    ... Skip to Content 112th Congress, 1st Session Subjects Fire The first Sergeant at Arms, Joseph Wheaton May 12, 1789 On this date, the House elected ...
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    ... Skip to Content 112th Congress, 1st Session Subjects Capitol Police The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol January 03, 1930 At 7 pm on this ...
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    ... Skip to Content 112th Congress, 1st Session Subjects Calver, George The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol January 03, 1930 At 7 pm on ...
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    ... planning of festivities for the 1932 bicentennial of the first President's birth. The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol January 03, 1930 At 7 pm on ...
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    ... , 1st Session Subjects Goodwin, William (Bill) Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire onto the House Floor March 01, 1954 Four Puerto Rican nationalists, armed ...
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    ... temporary quarters in the Ways and Means Committee room. Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire onto the House Floor March 01, 1954 Four Puerto Rican nationalists, armed ...
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    ... Content 112th Congress, 1st Session Subjects Jensen, Ben Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire onto the House Floor March 01, 1954 Four Puerto Rican nationalists, armed ...
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    ... 20 minutes to speak on the nation's economic depression. Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire onto the House Floor March 01, 1954 Four Puerto Rican nationalists, armed ...
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    ... committee when he questioned its ability to run the restaurant, said Underhill. Murphy fired back, asking why the restaurant had stopped serving "those little pieces of ...
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    ... , attained the rank of major general, and lost his right leg to cannon fire at Gettysburg. After the war ended, Sickles was the commander of a ...
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    ... deep" A parade then proceeded down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol. Minute guns fired salutes simultaneously from the monument, the Navy Yard in Southwest Washington, D.C ...
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    ... States of America formed in February 1861. The first shots the Civil War were fired on federal forces at Fort Sumter in April 1861. Related Highlight Subjects Artifacts ...
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    ... (3) Findley, Paul (1) Findley, William (1) Fire (6) First Federal Congress (6) Fish, Hamilton (2 ...
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    Subjects – Fire

    Subjects – Capitol

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