“Section of the House Chamber” (detail), by B. Henry Latrobe, 1815
After the fire of 1814, Latrobe redesigned the House Chamber along the lines of a classical theater.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Rebuilding after the War of 1812
Capitol restoration began soon after the fires of 1814 were out. B. Henry Latrobe, who had been Jefferson’s "surveyor of public buildings," was hired to restore the two wings.
The project went beyond simple restoration, however. Changes in Congress prompted changes in the building’s interior. Chief among these were eight new rooms in the north wing for Senate committees. Latrobe also enlarged the House and Senate chambers, modifying their layout to better suit their operations. In plan and decoration, these spaces recalled the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. To ensure that the work was both elegant and economical, one of the sculptors returned to Italy—where labor was cheaper—to supervise the carving of column capitals.