The Supreme Court Building

The Constitution created three branches of government. Two branches, Congress and the presidency, had their own homes. For 134 years, the Supreme Court shared the Capitol. It met first in a committee room, later in the library, and, from 1810 to 1860, in a first-floor chamber designed by B. Henry Latrobe. In 1860, the Court moved to the Senate’s former second-floor chamber.

In 1926, Chief Justice William Howard Taft asked architect Cass Gilbert to plan a courthouse. The site selected faced the Capitol on First Street, Northeast. Its proximity to Union Station—convenient for out-of-town lawyers—was an important consideration. Congress appropriated just under $10 million and created a commission in 1929 to oversee construction, which began in 1930. The building opened five years later.

History of Congress and the Capitol

The Capitol 1913-1945

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Supreme Court Chamber, ca. 1930
Image Caption

Supreme Court Chamber, ca. 1930

From 1860 until 1935, the Supreme Court held its sessions in the Capitol in the former Senate Chamber.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Supreme Court Chamber, ca. 1930

From 1860 until 1935, the Supreme Court held its sessions in the Capitol in the former Senate Chamber.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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