Interior Grandeur

Congress needed more space, but no one wanted the beloved Capitol overshadowed by its new additions. Secretary of State Daniel Webster suggested using narrow corridors to connect the new wings, leaving the old building visually intact. People also felt it important that the wings appear to grow naturally from the older building.

On the inside of the wings, no attempt was made to imitate the old interiors. Instead, modern designs and materials were used. Marble staircases led to spacious galleries overlooking the new chambers, which featured highly decorated iron ceilings and stained-glass skylights. Doors and windows stood in elaborate—and fireproof—cast-iron frames. English encaustic tile (embedded with colorful patterns) paved the floors, a vivid contrast to the brick and stone floors of the old building.

  • East Grand Stair, Senate wing

    East Grand Stair, Senate wing

    Architect of the Capitol

  • "Details of the Senate Chamber," by Thomas U. Walter, 1855

    "Details of the Senate Chamber," by Thomas U. Walter, 1855

    Architect of the Capitol

  • The President’s Room was one of the most elaborately decorated rooms in the Capitol extension.

    The President’s Room was one of the most elaborately decorated rooms in the Capitol extension.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • English encaustic tiles laid throughout the extension are as bright and colorful today as when they were first made by Minton, Hollins and Company, circa 1855.

    English encaustic tiles laid throughout the extension are as bright and colorful today as when they were first made by Minton, Hollins and Company, circa 1855.

    Architect of the Capitol