In order to allow for the installation of scaffolding and floor, statuary, and artwork protection in conjunction with the Dome Restoration Project, the Rotunda of the Capitol will be closed from Monday, July 27 through Monday, September 7. While the Rotunda is unavailable for tours, an alternate tour route will be provided. The Capitol Visitor Center is open during the closure of the Rotunda and will offer special activities which do not require advance reservations. You can also download our new U.S. Capitol Rotunda app.

Competition of 1850-1851

Congress was outgrowing its home. There were 15 states in the Union when the Capitol was designed. By 1850, there were 31 states. House membership increased during that period from 106 to 237.

In 1850, the Senate Committee on Public Buildings offered $500 to the architect with the best solution to the Capitol's space problems. Senators liked the idea of putting wings on the original building. House members preferred adding to the east front. Unable to agree, the House and Senate left the decision to the president. In a politically savvy move, President Millard Fillmore gave each a small victory. He asked the architect favored by the House, Thomas U. Walter of Philadelphia, to enlarge the Capitol by adding wings—as the Senate preferred.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Capitol 1815-1851

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Perspective view of Enlarging, by...
Image Caption

Perspective view of Enlarging, by Walter, 1850

Perspective view of Enlarging, by Walter, 1850

Architect of the Capitol

Perspective view of Enlarging, by Walter, 1850

Perspective view of Enlarging, by Walter, 1850

Architect of the Capitol

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