Many of our most celebrated national figures have participated in
historical events that have taken place within the EEOB's granite walls.
Franklin D. Roosevelt,
William Howard Taft,
Dwight D. Eisenhower,
Lyndon B. Johnson,
Gerald Ford, and
George H. W. Bush all had offices
in this building before becoming President. It has housed 16 Secretaries of the
Navy, 21 Secretaries of War, and 24 Secretaries of State. Winston Churchill
once walked its corridors and Japanese emissaries met here with Secretary of
State Cordell Hull after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
President Herbert Hoover
occupied the Secretary of Navy's office for a few months following a fire in
the Oval Office on Christmas Eve 1929. In recent history, President
Richard Nixon had a private
office here. Vice President
Lyndon B. Johnson was the
first in a succession of Vice Presidents to the present day that have had
offices in the building.
The Office of the Secretary of the Navy, 1904. U.S. Naval
Gradually, the original tenants of the EEOB vacated the building - the
Navy Department left in 1918 (except for the Secretary who stayed until 1921),
followed by the War Department in 1938, and finally by the State Department in
1947. The White House began to move some of its offices across West Executive
Avenue in 1939, and in 1949 the building was turned over to the Executive
Office of the President and renamed the Executive Office Building. The building continues to
house various agencies that comprise the
Executive Office of the President, such as
the White House Office, the Office of the Vice President, the
Office of Management and Budget and the
National Security Council.
West Rotunda, restored in 1987. Extensive research was conducted to
determine the colors of the stained glass that was removed in 1950. Walter Smalling, Jr.
The French Second Empire style originated in Europe, where it first appeared
during the rebuilding of Paris in the 1850s and 60s. Based upon French
Renaissance prototypes, such as the Louvre Palace, the Second Empire
style is characterized by the use of a steep mansard roof, central and
end pavilions, and an elaborately sculptured facade. Its
sophistication appealed to visiting foreigners, especially in England and
America, where as early as the late 1850s, architects began adopting
isolated features and, eventually, the style as a coherent whole. Alfred
Mullett's interpretation of the French Second Empire style was, however,
particularly Americanized in its lack of an ornate sculptural program
and its bold, linear details.
The Executive Office of the President Law Library was originally the
War Department Library. This room mixes motifs derived from several
architectural styles and, although it looks like a mixture of
different metals, is composed entirely of cast iron. Walter Smalling, Jr.
While it was only a project on the drafting table, the design of the EEOB
was subject to controversy. When it was completed in 1888, the Second
Empire style had fallen from favor, and Mullett's masterpiece was
perceived by capricious Victorians as only an embarrassing reminder of
past whims in architectural preference. This was especially the case
with the EEOB, since previous plans for a building on the same site had
been in the Greek Revivial style of the Treasury Building.
Theodore Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under
John D. Long prior to the Spanish-American War. Library of
In 1917, the Commission of Fine Arts requested John Russell Pope to
prepare sketches of the State, War, and Navy building that incorporated
Classical facades. During the same year, Washington architect Waddy B.
Wood completed a drawing depicting the building remodeled to resemble the
Treasury Building. This project was revived in 1930 when Congress appropriated $3 million for its construction. Wood worked for 3 years on the design to remove the granite walls and replace them with marble, but the project was shelved
due to financial burdens imposed by the
Great Depression. In 1957, President Eisenhower's Advisory Committee on
Presidential Office Space recommended demolition of the Executive Office
Building and construction of a modern office facility. However, the public outcry, and the
overwhelming expenses associated with the demolition, saved the building.
North wing dome. Paint analysis revealed differences in coloration
corresponding to the differences in design in the two pairs of domes and
led to their restoration in 1984. Walter Smalling, Jr.
The building has not been without detractors. It has been referred to as
Mullett's "architectural infant asylum" by writer Henry Adams. President
Harry S. Truman came to the defense of the building when it was
threatened by demolition in 1958. He said it was "the
greatest monstrosity in America". Noted architectural historian
Henry-Russell Hitchcock, however described it as "perhaps the best extant
example in America of the second empire."
Original painted decoration on the coved ceiling in the office
of the Secretary of the Navy. Walter Smalling, Jr.
The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969. In
1972, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the
District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites.
Office of the Secretary of the Navy restored 1987. Restoration included
partial replication of original marquetry floor. Walter Smalling, Jr.
Since 1981, the Office of Administration of the Executive Office of the
President has actively pursued a rigorous program of rehabilitation of
the EEOB. The entire structure has
benefited from an upgraded maintenance program that has also included
restoration of some of the EEOB's most spectacular historic interiors.
In 1988, Congress enacted legislation to allow the Office of
Administration to accept gifts and loans from the public on behalf of the
EEOB to be used for preservation and restoration purposes. Persons
interested in finding out more about the preservation program or in
making a contribution should contact the Preservation Office.
Office of the Secretary of War, 1888. It is typically victorian in
style, with a parquet floor, heavy wall coverings, and an intricate
ceiling mural. Library of Congress.