Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Summary

State, War, and Navy Building
Old Executive Office Building 1981.jpg
Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located in Central Washington, D.C.
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
LocationPennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Coordinates38°53′51.24″N 77°2′20.93″W / 38.8975667°N 77.0391472°W / 38.8975667; -77.0391472Coordinates: 38°53′51.24″N 77°2′20.93″W / 38.8975667°N 77.0391472°W / 38.8975667; -77.0391472
Built1871–1888
ArchitectAlfred B. Mullett
Architectural styleFrench Second Empire
NRHP reference No.69000293
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 4, 1969[1]
Designated NHLNovember 11, 1971[2]

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB)—formerly known as the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB), and originally as the State, War, and Navy Building—is a U.S. government building situated just west of the White House in the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. Maintained by the General Services Administration, it is currently occupied by the Executive Office of the President, including the Office of the Vice President of the United States. In 1999, it was named for former president and general Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Located on 17th Street NW, between Pennsylvania Avenue and State Place, and West Executive Drive, the building was commissioned by President Ulysses S. Grant. It was built between 1871 and 1888, on the site of the original 1800 War/State/Navy Building[3] and the White House stables, in the French Second Empire style.

As its first name suggests, it was initially built to house three departments. While the building's elaborate style received substantial criticism at first, it has since been designated as a National Historic Landmark. It was for years the world's largest office building, with 566 rooms and about 10 acres (40,000 m2) of floor space. Many White House employees have their offices in the EEOB.

History

In 1802, the recently completed Washington Jockey Club, located at H Street and Jackson Place, was relocated to the Holmstead Farm two miles north of the Executive Mansion, at what is now Meridian Hill. The first executive offices were constructed between 1799 and 1820 where the club once stood, on sites flanking the White House.[4] In 1869, following the Civil War, Congress appointed a commission to select a site and submit plan and cost estimates for a new State Department Building, with possible arrangements to house the War and Navy departments.[4]

Construction of the State, War, and Navy Building (undated)
The State, War, and Navy Building in 1917

The building, originally called the State, War, and Navy Building because it housed these three departments, was built between 1871 and 1888 in the French Second Empire style.[5]

It was designed by Alfred B. Mullett, Supervising Architect of the Department of Treasury, which had responsibility for federal buildings. Patterned after French Second Empire architecture that clashed sharply with the neoclassical style of the other Federal buildings in the city, it was generally regarded with scorn and disdain. Mullett, the exterior architect who was often criticized in his position, later resigned. Beset by financial difficulties, litigation, and illness, in 1890 he committed suicide. Writer Mark Twain referred to this building as "the ugliest building in America."[6] President Harry S. Truman called it "the greatest monstrosity in America."[7] Historian Henry Adams called it Mullett's “architectural infant asylum.”[8]

Much of the interior was designed by Richard von Ezdorf, using fireproof cast-iron structural and decorative elements. These included massive skylights above each of the major stairwells, and doorknobs with cast patterns indicating which of the original three occupying departments (State, Navy, or War) occupied a particular space. The total cost to construct the building was $10,038,482 when construction ended in 1888, after 17 years. The original tenants quickly outgrew the building and finally vacated it completely in the late 1930s. Becoming known as the Old Executive Office Building, it housed staff members of the Executive Office of the President.

The building was considered inefficient and was nearly demolished in 1957. In 1969, the building received the highest recognition possible, being designated as a National Historic Landmark.[9]

In 1981, plans began to restore all the "secretary of" suites. The main office of the Secretary of the Navy was restored in 1987 and is now used as the ceremonial office of the vice president. Shortly after September 11, 2001, the 17th Street side of the building was vacated and has since been modernized. The building continues to house various agencies that compose the president's executive office, such as the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Council. Its most public function is that of the Vice President's Ceremonial Office, which is used chiefly for special meetings and press conferences.[10]

President Richard Nixon maintained a "hideaway" office in Room 180 of the EEOB, pictured here in 1969.

Many celebrated national figures have participated in historical events that have taken place within the Old Executive Office Building. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 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. Sir Winston Churchill once walked its corridors and Japanese emissaries met there with Secretary of State Cordell Hull after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Presidents have occupied space in the EEOB as well. Herbert Hoover worked out of the Secretary of the Navy's office for a few months following a fire in the Oval Office on Christmas Eve 1929. President Dwight D. Eisenhower held the first televised presidential news conference in the building's Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) on January 19, 1955.[11] President Richard Nixon maintained a private "hideaway" office in room 180 of the EEOB during his presidency, from where he preferred to work, using the Oval Office only for ceremonial occasions.[12]

Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first in a succession of vice presidents who have had offices in the building.[10] The first wife of a vice president to have an office in the building was Marilyn Quayle, wife of Dan Quayle, vice president to George H.W. Bush.[citation needed]

The Old Executive Office Building was renamed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building when President Bill Clinton approved legislation changing the name on November 9, 1999. President George W. Bush participated in a rededication ceremony on May 7, 2002.[13]

A small fire on December 19, 2007, damaged an office of the vice-president's staff and included the VP ceremonial office.[14] According to media reporting, the office of the vice president's Political Director, Amy Whitelaw, was heavily damaged in the fire.[15]

Occupants

The EEOB from the intersection of Pennsylvania Ave and 17th St. NW, pictured in 2021.

Presidents

The front facade on Pennsylvania Avenue (2018).

Vice presidents

Secretaries of State

Secretaries of War

Army chiefs of staff

Secretaries of the Navy

Senior Navy officers

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "State, War, and Navy Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  3. ^ "Public Building West of the White House May 1801 - August 1814". US Department of State, Office of the Historian. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Eisenhower Executive Office Building". The White House. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  5. ^ Edleson, Harriet (February 1, 2012). Little Black Book of Washington DC (2012 ed.). Peter Pauper Press, Inc. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4413-0661-6.
  6. ^ "The White House Area". Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
  7. ^ "Call it ugly or a monstrosity; call it Eisenhower Building". The Morning Sun. Pittsburg, Kansas. November 10, 1999. Archived from the original on May 14, 2001. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  8. ^ White Jr., Richard D. (November 10, 2003). Roosevelt the Reformer. The University of Alabama Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8173-1361-6.
  9. ^ Morton III, W. Brown (May 24, 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Executive Office Building/State, War, and Navy Building". National Park Service. Retrieved October 19, 2016. with three photos from 1971
  10. ^ a b "Vice President's Ceremonial Office". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved December 19, 2007 – via National Archives.
  11. ^ "Indian Treaty Room". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2008 – via National Archives.
  12. ^ "Room 180". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved August 5, 2017 – via National Archives.
  13. ^ "An Imaginary Tour of Pennsylvania Avenue: Pennsylvania Avenue Old Executive Building". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  14. ^ "Fire damages Cheney's ceremonial offices near White House". NBC News. Associated Press. December 19, 2007. Archived from the original on December 20, 2007. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  15. ^ Hunt, Terence (December 20, 2007). "Fire damages Cheney's ceremonial offices near White House". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved January 21, 2021.

External links

  • Old Executive Office Building, from the National Park Service
  • Virtual tour on the White House Web site
  • General Services Administration page on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building