A building’s most basic job is to provide shelter. That role seemed in jeopardy in 1938. Structural analysis showed that the 80-year-old roofs over the House and Senate wings were no longer safe. Congress allocated repair funds in 1940, but the demands of the war effort and a steel shortage at home held up the project for nearly a decade.
By the end of World War II, the scope of work had expanded to include installing new ceilings over the House and Senate Chambers plus a change in decor. Congress decided to exchange the out-of-fashion Victorian decorations with a Colonial Revival or “early Federal” look. Material shortages delayed the first phase of remodeling until 1949 and 1950, when the roofs were replaced.