Stewards of the iconic buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill since 1793.

Featured

Bartholdi Fountain
In 1877 the United States paid $6,000 for an iron fountain sculpted by...

Featured

A view of the Capitol Visitor Center lit up at night
The Office of Congressional Accessibility Services (OCAS) provides a variety...

Featured

Yellow flowers in front of the Capitol Building
The Architect of the Capitol annually publishes a wide variety of publications...

Featured

Sheep on the White House lawn, taken between 1916-1919. Image courtesy Library of Congress
The Capitol Grounds have long been a haven for wildlife, with residents ranging...

Senate Chamber

Senate Chamber

Senators sitting in two story Senate Chamber.
Overview 

The Senate Chamber is a rectangular, two-story room located in the center of the north wing. The nation's 100 senators sit at individual desks arranged on a tiered semicircular platform facing a raised rostrum. A visitor's gallery overlooks the chamber on four sides.

First used on January 4, 1859, the Senate chamber was designed by Thomas U. Walter, the architect of the Capitol extension. The chamber was built without windows to insulate senators from outside noise. Light was originally provided through a large skylight and ventilation came courtesy of steam-powered fans.

In 1949-1950 the chamber was reconstructed, the skylight removed, and the walls redesigned. Pilasters made from red Levanto marble replaced the cast-iron originals; the wooden rostrum was replaced with a larger version in marble; and the iron and glass ceiling was taken out and a new stainless steel and plaster ceiling installed. The alteration were intended to improve the chamber's acoustics and ventilation while ridding it of its mid 19th-century decor, which was then out of fashion.

Last Updated: September 17, 2014