Rethinking the East and West

The Virginia sandstone facing the Capitol’s center building had deteriorated seriously by the mid-1900s, and its details were hidden beneath layers of paint. One way to solve these problems—and gain much-needed office space—was by building marble-faced additions to the east and west fronts. An east extension (first suggested in 1863) would also provide greater visual support for the iron dome.

House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas single-handedly secured funds for the east extension, completed in 1962. The west front project had a far different fate. Architects and historic preservationists raised a storm of protest when the idea for its extension was proposed in 1964. After years of rancorous debate, Congress rejected it. Instead, Congress ordered restoration of the west front, which was accomplished from 1983 to 1987.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Capitol 1945-Present

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The central figure in Luigi...
Image Caption

The central figure in Luigi Persico’s Genius of America was removed in 1958 when the portico was demolished to make way for the new east front extension.

The central figure in Luigi Persico’s Genius of America was removed in 1958 when the portico was demolished to make way for the new east front extension.

Architect of the Capitol

The central figure in Luigi Persico’s Genius of America was removed in 1958 when the portico was demolished to make way for the new east front extension.

The central figure in Luigi Persico’s Genius of America was removed in 1958 when the portico was demolished to make way for the new east front extension.

Architect of the Capitol

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