Built between 1878 and 1880, the Auditor’s Building was the first facility designed and constructed by the federal government for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The complex housed the necessary materials for the engraving and printing of the currency that was to replace sterling as the universal standard of exchange by the middle of the twentieth century.
Architect James G. Hill’s (1841-1913) design reflects the different stylistic trends of the period. The Auditors Building shows restraint in its Romanesque Revival style, mixing contemporary English influences and elements of the Italianate style. The restraint imposed on the normally exuberant Romanesque Revival is also more clearly understood in the light of the conservative architectural taste in DC at the time of the Auditors Building’s construction. The Italianate had enjoyed widespread popularity from the 1840s through the 1860s. While this style of building was waning in most parts of the country by the mid-seventies, its characterizing elements still manifested in new DC constructions. Thus, the symmetrical massing, the bracketed cornice and the shallow pavilions of the Auditors Building can be seen as the late presence of the Italianate. The connection between work in England and the work of the architect of the Auditors Building can be more firmly established by the specific motifs used. The Queen Anne style manifested in architecture the dictates of the Aesthetic Movement, a precursor of the Art Nouveau.
An addition to the complex was built in 1891 but demolished in 1988. Another addition was built between 1900 and 1901. The main building of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was built in 1914.
DC Inventory: February 26, 1974
National Register: April 27, 1978