It is known as the Senate extension. The principal story contains the Senate Chamber, the Senate post-office, the office of the sergeant-at-arms, the reception-room, the Senators’ withdrawing-room, the rooms of the President and Vice-President of the United States, the office of the secretary of the Senate, and the offices of the Senate clerks and official reporters. Around the Senate Chamber is a grand corridor adorned with marble columns and pilasters. The wing is constructed entirely of marble and iron, and is very magnificent.
At the back of the Senate Chamber is the Senators’ lobby, and opening from it is the withdrawing-room, or, as it is generally called, ” the marble room,” as it is made entirely of marble. Senators use :t for consultation. The President’s room is on one side of it, and the Vice-President’s room on the other. Medallion portraits of Washington and the members of his first Cabinet cover the walls of the President’s room, and it is sumptuously decorated. Here the President comes on the last day of the session of Congress, to sign the bills passed by both houses. When the Senate is not sitting the various rooms can be inspected, and the floor of the Senate Chamber is also open to the public.
The Senate Chamber is one hundred and twelve feet in length, eighty-two feet in width, and thirty feet high. The ceiling is composed of large iron girders and cross-pieces, in which are panels of glass containing painted emblems representing the Union, Progress, the Army and Navy, and the Mechanical Arts. At night hundreds of gas jets, arranged back of the ceiling, throw a flood of softened light into all portions of the chamber. The walls are painted in exquisite tints and decorated in gold, and have buff panels. Arranged on the floor in concentric semicircles are mahogany desks and chairs for the Senators. On a dais is the chair of the President of the Senate, and in front of it is a broad mahogany desk. To the right of the president’s chair is the chair of the sergeant-at-arms, and to the left that of the assistant door-keeper. In front of the president’s desk are the desks of the Senate clerks and the tables of the official reporters. Galleries with seats for 1,000 persons extend around the chamber. Above the president’s chair is a gallery for reporters of the press, and directly opposite is one for the diplomatic corps. The others are for the public.
Two grand staircases of highly polished marble lead to the Senate galleries from the public corridor. The eastern staircase is constructed of variegated Tennessee marble, with white marble steps. A stained glass skylight set in a paneled iron frame is placed over-head. From the main floor a broad flight of sixteen steps leads to the first landing ; thence the ascent is by a double flight of eighteen steps. In a niche at the foot of the staircase is a marble statue of Benjamin Franklin, by Hiram Powers, executed at a cost of $10,000. On the wall above the first landing is a large painting of ” Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie,” Sept. 10, 1813. It was painted by W. H. Powell, and cost $25,000. Commodore Perry is represented in a boat, making the perilous transfer of the flag from the disabled Lawrence ” to the ” Niagara,” during a tremendous cannonading.
The western staircase is constructed entirely of white marble, and is similar in design to the eastern. At the foot is a marble statue of John Hancock, by Horatio Stone, which cost $5,550. Over the main landing is a painting of ” The Storming of Chapultepec” by General Scott’s troops, Sept. 13, 1847. It was painted by James Walker, from sketches taken on the battle-field, the artist receiving $6,000 for the work. The staircases, with their massive pillars and balustrades, are very beautiful.