Government Printing Office

A site that has experienced many changes over the decades, the GPO Building stands as a beautiful example of Romanesque Revival architecture, blocks from the Capitol.

Ever since its establishment by Congress in 1861, the Government Printing Office, now known as the Government Publishing Office (GPO), has called the block between H and G streets along North Capitol Street NW home. The site has gone through several changes, expansions, and renovations since the 1860s, but the location of the GPO has always remained the same.  

The first building on the site no longer exists, but was a Federal style warehouse built in 1856 and bought by GPO for $300,000 in 1861. As the GPO expanded in operations, its building grew in size, with additions that occupied the whole northern half of the block until 1898, when Congress authorized the construction of a second building known as Building One, completed in 1903. Designed by prolific DC architect James G. Hill in a Romanesque Revival style, the massive steel frame structure rises seven stories high and is clad in red brick. Hill is responsible for several other landmarks in Washington, including the Loan and Trust Company Building, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Building, the Atlantic Building, and the National Bank of Washington

The GPO complex continued to expand in the 20th century, with the addition of both an eighth story and a roof terrace to Building One in the 1920s. Shortly thereafter, an addition to Building One was added to the rear and named Building Two. Following the creation of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal Era, two more buildings were planned for development. To make room, the original 19th century structure was torn down, and in its place, Buildings Three and Four were constructed on the north side of the block.  

Today, GPO serves all three branches of the federal government and is responsible for the dissemination of all reports and publications. This includes publishing annual reports, bills, and style manuals for Congress and the various federal departments and agencies, as well as operating the Federal Depository Library Program. In 2014, the Government Printing Office became the Government Publishing Office as most of their work, since the 1980s, had been done digitally. Despite the digitization of most GPO publications, one of the few things that they remain responsible for printing are passports.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)



North Capitol Street between G and H Streets, NW