Like the Greek Revival Treasury Building to the east in ground plan, the Second Empire version of French Renaissance style State, War, and Navy Building is a monumental, isolated rectangle with a transecting wing and two interior courts. The building is six stories high, with purple-grey Virginia granite walls and purple slate mansard roofs. Its colossal size and almost unbelievable variety and richness of detail represent the quintessence of vigorous superscaled late 19th-century architecture. It has become a paradigm of post-civil war architecture and one of the three grandest structures in the United States in its style.
This building was constructed to create a new permanent home for the overcrowded State, War, and Navy Departments. It was erected directly to the west of the White House on the Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street site of two existing Executive Office buildings, Old War and Old Navy; the wing-by-wing construction allowed those buildings to remain in use during part of the 17-year construction period. Four future Presidents had offices in the building: Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; William Howard Taft, Secretary of State; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice President. Thirteen Secretaries of the Navy, twenty-one Secretaries of War, and twenty-five Secretaries of State had offices in the building. It is now principally occupied by the ever-expanding White House staff.
DC designation: November 8, 1964
National Register listing: June 4, 1969
National Historic Landmark: November 11, 1971