The House Chamber in the Capitol opened in 1857, but the number of representatives quickly grew from 193 to 391, as more states joined the Union with westward expansion. As more constituents and growing workloads put increasing amounts of pressure on representatives, it became clear that members of Congress needed additional space.
Congress considered two new Capitol construction projects in 1901. The first would have provided for a $2 million extension of the Capitol’s east front, but this project proved highly controversial and unpopular among those who wanted to preserve the building’s original exterior. The second project, calling for two new office buildings, moved ahead more quickly. The House of Representatives approved an amendment to an appropriations bill in February 1903, calling for a new fireproof building for the House to be located on the south side of the Capitol.
The final Civil Appropriations Act of March 3, 1903 provided initial funding of $500,000 to acquire land for a new House office building and an appropriation of $3.1 million for construction. When the 1903 appropriations bill came before the Senate, senators approved the new building plans, contingent upon the addition of a corresponding Senate building. Superintendent of the Capitol Building and Grounds, Elliot Woods (1865-1923), recommended the architectural firm Carrère & Hastings for both the House and the Senate Office Building. Hastings oversaw the construction of the Beaux-Arts-style House office building in 1906 to 1908.
These new offices for Members of Congress dramatically changed how the House of Representatives worked. With expanded space, committees could hold more public hearings, congressmen could meet with constituents, and additional staff hired to accommodate the requests that flowed into the House from citizens around the country. The House Office Building allowed the House to go about its business in a more efficient and professional manner.
In 1962, the building was named for former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon (1836-1926) and officially became known as the Cannon House Office Building.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964