Page images


This building is a unit under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol. It is self-sustaining, however, in that it is an organization itself, equipped with a complete storeroom, electrical shop, carpenter shop, paint shop, plumbing and heating room, and labor and char force. It contains 655 rooms, of which 483 are used by Members and committees and 172 for miscellaneous offices and storerooms. These rooms require daily attention by the labor and char force.

There are 11 elevators in the building, by which elevator service is furnished.

During the past fiscal year 36 Members have been moved from one room to another. Six Members elected Senators have been moved to the Senate Office Building, and 54 rooms put in order for new Members. All rooms have been house cleaned and the walls of 225 rooms have been washed.

The electrical shop, in addition to caring for and lubricating all elevators, has installed new contacts on all elevator-control boards, a new board complete for No. 7 elevator, new fields for No. 10 elevator motor, new lock-drop annunciators on nine cars and reroped and overhauled all cars. Four droplights and shades were installed in the cabinet shop. An average of 83 routine jobs per month were taken care of.

The carpenter shop has built and installed 480 feet of asbestos partition, 500 feet of beaver-board partition, 900 square feet of wooden partition, and 670 feet of shelves in rooms and storerooms. Five heavily reinforced doors were built and hung in the basement. Doors and windows were repaired and replaced in the penthouses over Nos. 7, 10, and 11 elevators. New platforms and landings were .constructed for entrances to the building and 450 wire baskets to receive mail were installed under the letter slots in the office doors. The mail platform, consisting of 1,250 square feet, was lowered for the convenience of the House post office, and an average of 126 miscellaneous jobs per month were taken care of, such as hanging pictures, opening desks, and repairing door locks.

The paint shop painted 7 rooms complete, 225 floor borders, 1,001 square feet of floor space in the telephone exchange, 2 sets of iron steps from the fifth floor to the basement, portions of the corridor walls and all platforms and landings for entrances to the building. All ventilators and penthouses were painted and all window and door frames on the outside and court side were enameled.

The routine work of the plumbing and heating rooms consists of the caring for and operating of the heating plant, refrigerating plants, condensation plant, and the care and maintenance of all plumbing and heating in the House Office Building. The condensation plant was overhauled and placed in perfect condition. Two new radiators and 130 new radiator valves were installed, 4 basins replaced, and an average of 85 routine jobs per month taken care of.

New roofing was laid on the court half of the C Street side of the building, using 4,609 square feet of copper, 168 pounds of solder, 8 pounds copper rivets, 100 pounds lead wool, 20 bushels of charcoal, 3 rolls 1-ply tar paper, and 52512 hours labor.

All equipment was removed from the dining room and kitchen in order that the work of remodeling these rooms for the use of the Agriculture Committee could be started.

Routine work such as general cleaning of the building, rearranging and moving furniture in offices, and various minor jobs too numerous to set forth here, has been carried on throughout the year.


Leading to the north and east from the Capitol power plant, a distance of 3,400 feet, is a large concrete tunnel with an arched ceiling; the tunnel in inside measurement is 4 feet 6 inches wide and in the center of the arch 7 feet high. In this tunnel the heat, light, and power for the Capitol group of buildings is conveyed and dis_tributed through lateral tunnels of the same dimensions to the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Senate and House Office Buildings.

Owing to the settlement of the main tunnel and the fracture of the connections between the tunnel and the lateral branches, it was known that repairs were necessary, and in the second deficiency bill approved July 3, 1926, Public, No. 492, Sixty-ninth Congress, adequate funds were provided for this work.

It had been expected by the consulting engineers that in addition to the repairs to the connecting tunnels and visible cracks in the main tunnel, voids would be located under the floor of the main tunnel, and the undetermined condition of this work made it impossible to secure bids therefor except upon a cost-plus basis, the work to be under the supervision of the representative from the office of the architect.

In making these repairs excavations were made at the point of the connections of the lateral branches with the main tunnel to the bottom of the steam tunnel, and the fractures cut in V-shaped joints and then filled with reinforced concrete. Interior cracks in the roof and sides were repaired by cutting out the cracks and shaping the cuts in a V shape and filling with concrete by grouting, the cracks being filled with waterproof cement.

In the floor of the tunnel holes were cut at a distance of each 50 feet, using compressed-air concrete drills. It was intended to fill voids, if any were found, with concrete forced under the floor by pressure, but this thorough test failed to locate any voids under the tunnel.

As a matter of information it may be proper to state that while the length of the tunnel from the Capitol power plant to the Senate Office Building is 3,400 feet, that this does not represent the entire length. as the tunnel has been continued from the Senate Office Building to the Government Printing Office in order that the Post Office and the Printing Office might be furnished with heat, light, and power from the same power plant. The length of this extended tunnel is 2,751 feet and the inside dimensions are 4 feet 6 inches wide and 7 feet high in the center of the ceiling, which is in the form of a truncated pyramid with a top width of 2 feet 5 inches. The side walls from a height of 4 feet 10 inches slant toward this central flat ceiling, forming a ceiling without adopting the form of an arch.

While the work of the repairs to the steam tunnel is not seen without a visit to the interior of the tunnel, the most important work

rendered necessary by the settlement of the tunnel was the repairs to the approach to the northeast corner of the House Office Building. In this work there was not only repair but remodeling. The damage to the approach was so extensive that the question of restoration was considered impracticable, as the weight of the approach in its proximity to the lateral branch of the tunnel supplying the building with heat, light, and power made it desirable that the weight should be lessened in view of the factor of safety of further settlement.

The marble approach was removed and a new treatment of balustrade and grades adopted. About 1,200 cubic feet of earth above the street grade was excavated; the brickwork exposed was cut out and 400 square feet of marble ashlar set in the walls.

A new balustrade 6 feet high and commencing at the corner of First and B Streets and running north a distance of 30 feet has been erected to complete the east side of the approach to the building.. Sidewalks at the corners of B and C Streets on the First Street side of the building have been laid, and the entire sidewalk on the First Street side of the building replaced with a new sidewalk. This work required 1,200 yards of sidewalk.

By the change of the grade caused by the removal of the former terrace it became necessary to regrade the grass plot to conform with the change of grade; and in addition to the grading 800 lineal feet of concrete coping was built. The changes referred to have not in any manner lessened the architectural effect of the approach to the building.

As has been stated, all of the work described became necessary on account of the settlement of the steam tunnel. To repair the damage it was necessary to excavate to a depth of 20 feet in order to rebuild the steam tunnel supplying the House Office Building, and the same depth of excavation was needed in order to replace the 8-inch rainwater sewer broken by the settlement of tunnel mentioned.


For the reason that the appropriations for the care and maintenance of the Capitol Grounds have been carried as “Improving Capitol Grounds” for many years, the report of the care and maintenance of the grounds is made under the same title.

In order that a proper understanding of the labor involved in the care and maintenance of the grounds may be had it should be remembered that the area of the Capitol Grounds includes 58,60 acres, and to this should be added the combined areas of the sites of the Senate Office Building and the House Office Building, totaling an area of 416,754 square feet; these areas, with the lawns, walks, and drives, must be kept in proper condition by daily cleaning and sweeping of the walks and drives and by the cutting of the grass on the lawns as necessary.

The Capitol Grounds contain more than 100 different varieties of trees and over 85 varieties of shrubs, and of these varieties there are more than one specimen of most of the varieties enumerated. The care alone of this large number of trees and shrubs will be appreciated by those caring for small numbers of trees or shrubs, remembering the necessary pruning and other attention required.

In the care of the trees and shrubs of the grounds during the past year, needed pruning, spraying, and fertilizing have been attended to, and the general upkeep of the lawns has required the use of 1,820 pounds of blue-grass seed, 600 pounds of Italian rye-grass seed, 500 pounds of red-top grass seed, while the fertilization totaled 20 tons of commercial fertilizer, 100 cubic yards of manure, and 300 cubic yards of leaf mold.

Among the annual plantings should be mentioned the use of 9,000 tulip bulbs in the terrace beds and borders and 10 large boxwood shrubs used in the rearrangement of the plant material of the Senate terrace borders.

The installation of modern underground irrigation systems on the lawns immediately fronting the east side of the Capitol have resulted in a decided improvement of these areas, and the importance of extending this system to a larger extent throughout the Capitol Grounds is clearly demonstrated by this small installation.

The work performed in the replacing of sidewalks in the southwest section of the Capitol Grounds follows under the head of Sidewalks, Capitol Grounds.


In the Capitol Grounds there are more than 50,000 square yards of concrete sidewalk. Much of this area, especially in the north, south, and west portion of the grounds, was laid years ago, when the knowledge of proper material and proper methods of sidewalk construction was less accurate than at the present time. From time to time as the walks have become in need of repairs certain areas have been replaced by the construction of a new sidewalk instead of attempting to patch up or repair. During the past fiscal year more than 5,000 yards of new sidewalk were laid and in some instances the drains were repaired and put in good condition. The area covered by the installation of new sidewalk may be described as all of the sidewalk between the south driveway and the Maryland Avenue walk. This area means but little unless it is taken by comparing the area with known areas of sidewalk throughout the city. For instance, if the sidewalk is 6 feet in width the area covered by this new work during the past fiscal year would be equivalent to a line of sidewalk upon one side of the street for more than 24 of our ordinary city squares. If, upon the other hand, we should consider it under the terms of a sidewalk 9 feet in width, or 3 yards in width, this area would be equivalent to a sidewalk along the entire frontage on one side of a street for a distance of 1623 squares. It should be mentioned in this connection that this sidewalk was constructed entirely under the supervision of this office, the material being purchased, the labor employed, and the construction in charge of one of the foremen under this office. It was found out that by doing the work in this manner a much larger area could be covered than by asking for bids and expending the money allotted for as much as could be done by the ordinary contract system.


In the annual report for the year ending June 30, 1926, a statement was made relating to the completing of the contract for the purchase of the remaining portion of ground in the vicinity of the Union Station Plaza belonging to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., Real Estate & Improvement Co. of Baltimore City, and the Washington Terminal Co. As the purchase of the ground referred to was completed, the property was turned over to the Architect of the Capitol and steps were taken to clear this area of dwellings which had remained there from the time that the purchase of this ground was contemplated. Some of these buildings were in very poor condition owing to the fact that it was well known that sooner or later the title would be transferred to the Government, and other buildings were in better general repair. There were 34 buildings in all. The wrecking of these buildings commenced on the 1st day of April and was completed June 30, 1927. This has included not only the taking down and removal of the buildings but the taking out of foundation walls so that the cellars could be filled with suitable earth in order that the ground might be properly leveled and graded.

Proposals were received for the building materials contained in the buildings, with the understanding that the buildings should be taken down by the Government. The highest bid received was $6,850.

The houses removed were as follows: 2 houses Nos. 301 and 335 Delaware Avenue NE., located in square 684; 8 houses in square 683, being Nos. 310, 312, 314, 316, 326, 328, 330, and 332 Delaware Avenue NE., all of the foregoing houses having been acquired from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. There were 24 houses in square No. 633, the numbers of which were 235 Arthur Place NW.; 27, 29, 31, and 33 B Street NW.; Nos. 40, 42, 44, and 46 C Street NW.; and Nos. 210, 212, 214, 216, 218, 220, 222, 224, 226, 228, 230, 234, 236, and 238 New Jersey Avenue NW.; the foregoing houses having been previously acquired and under rental through the Interior Department.

Dwellings referred to were taken down under the charge of this office, and it is worthy of note that the wrecking of this number of houses was completed without accidents of any kind occurring. It should also be noted that tentative plans for the grading and improving of this section as a part of the Capitol Grounds are now being worked out, and the plans in question will be in conformity with the advice and cooperation of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission and in accordance with the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts.

It is intended to present to the Congress in another document a detailed report covering all of the steps taken toward the acquiring of this property as an enlargement to the Capital Grounds, therein intending to give a detailed statement of the work by the three different commissions who have taken part in this purchase, showing the expenditures, the area acquired, persons from whom the property has been purchased, and a general financial statement covering the entire subject.

« PreviousContinue »