Due to a special event, on Wednesday, July 8, there will be no tours of the U.S. Capitol after 11 a.m. Emancipation Hall and Exhibition Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center will be unavailable all day. While reservations prior to 11 a.m. will be honored, same-day passes will not be available. The Capitol Visitor Center will close at noon except for individuals on official business and those going to the House and Senate Galleries.

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.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Capitol 1851-1877

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East Grand Stair, Senate wing
Image Caption

East Grand Stair, Senate wing

East Grand Stair, Senate wing

Architect of the Capitol

East Grand Stair, Senate wing

East Grand Stair, Senate wing

Architect of the Capitol

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