Preserving Capitol History

Two of the Capitol’s most historic rooms had fallen on hard times by 1960. The Old Senate Chamber was a meeting and party room. The Old Supreme Court Chamber had been divided into offices for the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Senator John Stennis of Mississippi spoke out about the deplorable condition of these noteworthy spaces. In 1961, he introduced a bill to restore the rooms.

Stennis’s measure met opposition in the House of Representatives. It took 11 years for the appropriation to finally win approval. Once the project was under way, however, some of the nation’s foremost scholars and restoration experts guided the work to completion. The Old Supreme Court Chamber was opened to the public in 1975, followed a year later by the Old Senate Chamber.