ALERT: Dome Restoration Project Necessitates Rotunda Closure April 12 through April 28.
Click here for more information.

Continuing Construction

Congress allocated $50,000 in 1803 to build the Capitol’s south wing. President Thomas Jefferson hired the architect-engineer B. Henry Latrobe, who reconfigured the wing’s interior while preserving the exterior design.

Latrobe built the south wing with fireproof masonry vaults. He also used these to rebuild about half of the north wing, which already suffered from rotting timbers and falling plaster. Latrobe constructed a new Senate Chamber and created a new Supreme Court Chamber.

One enduring Jefferson and Latrobe legacy is the use of symbolic sculpture in the Capitol. Sculptors were recruited from Italy. An eagle and statue of Liberty were made for the House Chamber. Giovanni Andrei and Giuseppe Franzoni produced for the Senate figures representing Arts, Commerce, Agriculture, Science, Military Force, and Civil Government.

  • Benjamin Henry Latrobe, by Charles Willson Peale, ca. 1804

    Benjamin Henry Latrobe, by Charles Willson Peale, ca. 1804

    White House Historical Association (White House Collection) (445)

  • “Section of the South Wing” (detail), by B. Henry Latrobe, 1804

    An eagle and a seated figure of Liberty were major design elements for the new House Chamber.

    Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

  • “Corn Order," by B. Henry Latrobe, 1809

    For a lobby near the Supreme Court Chamber, Latrobe designed column capitals with ears of corn—his first “Americanizing” of classical architecture.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • “Magnolia Order” (detail), by B. Henry Latrobe, 1809

    Latrobe designed column capitals with magnolia flowers and leaves for a visitor’s gallery overlooking the Senate Chamber. The columns did not survive the burning of the Capitol in 1814.

    Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

  • “The Capitol,” by B. Henry Latrobe, ca. 1810 “The Capitol,” by B. Henry Latrobe, ca. 1810

    The architect drew this picture to illustrate his vision of the completed Capitol.

    1897.1.1 Courtesy of The Maryland Historical Society