The Russell Building,The Cannon Building Washington DC


The Russell Senate Office Building
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

These first congressional office buildings are a set of nonidentical neoclassical twins that provide a visually appealing background for the United States Capitol. Both buildings are the oldest of the congressional office buildings, as well as fine examples of the Beaux Arts style of architecture. They were constructed after the turn of the century to relieve the overcrowding in the Capitol. Previously, House and Senate members had to rent quarters or borrow space if they wanted office space. The prominent New York architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings was retained for construction in April 1904. Thomas Hastings oversaw the construction of the House Office Building while John Carrere took charge of the Senate Office Building.

The Russell Building was occupied in 1909 by the Senate of the 61st Congress. Rapid growth over the next 20 years resulted in an addition, the First Street Wing.

The Cannon House Office Building
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

In 1972, the building was named for the former Senator Richard Brevard Russell. The Russell Caucus Room retained its original 1910 benches and settles (long wooden seats with high backs) decorated with intricately carved eagles. The room has been used for several significant hearings on matters such as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, Watergate in 1974, and the nomination of US Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

The Cannon Building was occupied in December 1907 by the 60th Congress. The House outgrew the office space by 1913 and 51 rooms were added to the original building by raising the roof and adding a fifth floor. In 1962, the building was named for the former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon.

Both buildings were designed with the Capitol in mind so as not to compete visually with the main building. They are connected underground to the Capitol by passageways. Upon their completion, the Cannon and Russell Buildings became classic models, copied in the city of Washington, DC as well as around the country.

The Cannon House Office Building is located at Independence and New Jersey Aves., NE. The Russell Senate Office Building is located at Delaware and Constitution Aves., NE. Both buildings are open to the public during normal office hours while Congress is in session. For more information on touring the Capitol Complex, please call 202/225-6827. Cannon Metro stop: Capitol South; Russell Metro stop: Union Station

* The White House, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and related buildings and grounds are legally exempted from listing in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.