The District of Columbia Government’s Recorder of Deeds (ROD) Building expresses the interplay between
political aspirations, social struggle, the search for civic identity, and even the influence of global war on the
District of Columbia.
Designed under the direction of Municipal Architect Nathan C. Wyeth, a master architect with multiple structures listed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and National Register of Historic Places. While Wyeth used the modern/stripped classical style for some earlier designs, the Recorder of Deeds Building occupies a unique niche among his protean and distinguished body of work. It is an office building designed for a special function, as opposed to a general purpose governmental structure such as the Municipal Center, which is programmed to flow its patrons to varied functional areas.
The interior is paneled in medium brown walnut. Its most notable feature is its extensive art program, especially the seven murals commissioned by the Treasury Department Section of Fine Art in 1943. These murals are painted on fabric and mounted on the building’s walls in the locations described in Attachment 1. Other significant art works include the 1936 series of portraits of prior recorders, William Edouard Scott’s oil painting titled “Groundbreaking” (1944), and Selma Burke’s sculptural relief “Four Freedoms” (1945).
The ROD building housed the Recorder of Deeds Office for more than sixty years. In 2005, its murals and rich history were acknowledged by a city historic marker. However, after the Recorders Office moved in 2008, the building was used for storage.