District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds (and Interiors)
With its remarkable murals and elegant design, the Recorder of Deeds Building stands out among DC's municipal buildings.
The District of Columbia Government’s Recorder of Deeds (ROD) Building expresses the interplay between political aspirations, social struggle, the search for civic identity, and even the influence of global war on the District of Columbia.
Designed under the direction of Municipal Architect Nathan C. Wyeth, the building was constructed between 1940 and 1943. While Wyeth used the modern/stripped classical style for some earlier designs, the Recorder of Deeds Building occupies a unique niche among his protean and distinguished body of work. It is an office building designed for a special function, as opposed to a general purpose governmental structure such as the Municipal Center, which is programmed to flow its patrons to varied functional areas.
The interior is paneled in medium brown walnut. Its most notable feature is its extensive art program, especially the seven murals commissioned by the Treasury Department Section of Fine Art in 1943. Other significant art works include the 1936 series of portraits of prior recorders, William Edouard Scott’s oil painting titled Groundbreaking (1944), and Selma Burke’s sculptural relief Four Freedoms (1945).
The building housed the Recorder of Deeds Office for more than sixty years. In 2005, its murals and rich history were acknowledged by a city historic marker. However, after the Recorder's Office moved in 2008, the building was used for storage.
DC Inventory: December 19, 2019
Within Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site