Washington DC – South Wing Of The Capitol

Or the House extension, is similar in design and construction to the Senate extension. It has a grand corridor or lobby, and a vestibule with fluted columns. In the principal story is the great hall of the House of Representatives, and surrounding it are the Speaker’s room, the retiring-room, the office of the sergeant-at-arms, the offices of the House clerks, and committee-rooms. The retiring-room is large and richly furnished, and the other rooms are of good size and elegant in their ornamentation and furniture. Opening from the rear of the legislative hall is the members’ lobby, which is finely decorated and hung with portraits of past Speakers of the House.

The hall of the House of Representatives is one of the largest and finest legislative halls in the world. It is one hundred and thirty-nine feet in length, ninety-three feet in width, and thirty-six feet high. The chairs and desks of the Representatives and Delegates are arranged on the floor in concentric semicircles. The chair of the Speaker is placed on a platform three feet from the floor, and in front of it is a large marble table, and in front of that are marble desks for the House clerks and official reporters. At the right of the Speaker’s chair is a stand on which the mace is placed when the House is in session, and close by is the chair of the sergeant-at-arms ; on the left is the chair of the assistant door-keeper. A portrait of Washington, by Vanderlyn, hangs on one side of the Speaker’s chair, and a portrait of Lafayette, by Ary Sheffer, on the other. Two paintings by Bierstadt, for which he received $20,000, are set in panels near the south doors. They represent the ” Settlement of California,” and the ” Discovery of the Hudson River.” A fresco by Brumidi, of ” Washington at Yorktown,” adorns a panel. Over the main entrance door is a large clock, supported by figures of an Indian and a pioneer, and surmounted by an eagle. The ceiling is similar in construction to that in the Senate Chamber. It is profusely gilded and ornamented, and the panels are filled with panes of painted glass bearing the arms of the states and other emblems. Back of the ceiling are 1,500 gas jets, which at night illuminate the hall in a very brilliant manner. The galleries will seat nearly two thousand people, and they are often filled during the progress of an important debate. The press gallery, back of the Speaker’s chair, has accommodation for sixty reporters. Two galleries are reserved for the diplomatic corps and the leading officials of the government ; the others are open to the public.

The eastern and western grand staircases, leading from the corridor of the House to the galleries, are exactly like those in the Senate extension. At the foot of the eastern staircase is a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson, by Hiram Powers, executed in Italy at a cost of $10,000. On the wall of the landing is Francis B. Carpenter’s famous painting of ” President Lincoln signing the Proclamation of Emancipation,” which was purchased of the artist for $25,000, by Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Thompson, and presented to the United States in 1878. While making studies for the work Mr. Carpenter resided in the White House as the guest of President Lincoln.

At the foot of the western staircase is a bronze bust of a friendly chief of the Chippewa Indians, called Bee-She-Kee, the Buffalo. The wall of the landing is embellished with an immense chromo-silica, by Emanuel Leutze, representing an emigrant train crossing the Rocky Mountains. It is bold in drawing and brilliant in color. Leutze received $20,000 for the work.