The Sun Building was designed in 1885-87 by the nationally recognized architect Alfred Bult Mullett for A.S. Abell, publisher of the Baltimore Sun, as the paper's Washington news bureau. The building was constructed by John H. Hewlett. A contemporary account stated that "'The Sun Building marks, it is believed, a new era in building in Washington." This new era was characterized by rapidly developing technologies. At the time of its construction, the Sun Building was viewed as one of
Washington's most distinguished new business structures.
The building stands as a fine example of the Victorian Gothic style of architecture. But its architectural significance lies beyond that of a skilled rendition of style. This building is an early embodiment of today's well-used concept of architectural corporate image.
The rich interior of the building centered about a nine-story marble stair with a brass handrail and intricate cast-iron balustrade in a foliate design. Oak moldings, fine hardware, and heavy ornamental cast-iron mantels with the sunburst motif and other decorations appear throughout the offices.
Today, the Sun Building retains the exuberant character and strong visual presence that distinguished it in 1887. Its
exterior has been carefully restored to the original design. Only the demolished steeple could not be rebuilt. The upper interior spaces retain their original finishes and detailing. The interior commercial spaces and lobby were returned to the original conformation, while accommodating modern conveniences and complying with building and safety codes.