Old Executive Office Building

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), formerly known as the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB) and as the State, War, and Navy Building, is an office building in Washington, D.C., just west of the White House. The building is maintained by General Services Administration and occupied by the White House Office of Administration/Executive Office of the President. It is on 17th Street NW, between Pennsylvania Avenue and New York Avenue, and West Executive Drive. The building is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Many White House employees have their offices in this structure, which is connected to the White House by a tunnel.

Original buildings

The first White House executive buildings were built in the late 1790s, as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson readied the new capital for the government that was set to move there in December 1800. Future President John Adams suggested placing the executive buildings near the Capitol, to be near Congress, but at George Washington's insistence, they were built near the White House. George Hadfield, who had worked on the United States Capitol, provided a design for an executive building in 1798. The design was used to build four identical buildings, two on each side of the White House. The building located on the site of the current Old Executive Office Building was known as the War Office, housing the Navy and War Departments, along with the Patent Office and other government offices. The building was occupied in 1800. On November 8, 1800, a fire severly damaged the War Office building, forcing building occupants to work out of temporary quarters until May 1801. During the War of 1812, when the British burned Washington, D.C., the War Office was among many buildings destroyed.

When rebuilding after the war, the burned-out shell of the old building was used as a basis for constructing new buildings. The War Department moved into the new War Office building in 1820. When the War Office building was torn down in 1884, to make way for the Old Executive Office Building, its portico and marble columns were relocated to Arlington National Cemetery, to serve as a gateway to the cemetery.

State, War, and Navy Building

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the building—originally called the State, War, and Navy Building because it housed the Departments of State, War, and the Navy—was built between 1871 and 1888 in the French Second Empire-style. It was designed by Alfred B. Mullett, Supervising Architect.

Much of the interior was designed by Richard von Ezdorf using fireproof cast-iron structural and decorative elements, including massive skylights above each of the major stairwells, and doorknobs with cast patterns indicating which of the original three occupying departments (State, Navy, or War) occupied a particular space. The original tenants of the building quickly outgrew the building and finally vacated the building completely in the late 1930s. The building gradually became seen as inefficient and was nearly demolished in 1957. In 1981, plans began to restore all the "secretary of" suites. The main office of the Secretary of Navy was restored in 1987 and is now used as the ceremonial office of the Vice President of the United States. Shortly after September 11, 2001 the 17th Street side of the building was vacated and has since been modernized. The building continues to house various agencies that compose the President's Executive Office, such as the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Council. However, its most public purpose is that of the Vice President's Ceremonial Office, used mainly for special meetings and press conferences.

Many celebrated national figures have participated in the historical events that have taken place within the Old Executive Office Building's granite walls. Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush all had offices in this building before becoming President. It has housed 16 Secretaries of the Navy, 21 Secretaries of War, and 24 Secretaries of State. Winston Churchill once walked its corridors and Japanese emissaries met there with Secretary of State Cordell Hull after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. President Herbert Hoover occupied the Secretary of the Navy's office for a few months following a fire in the Oval Office on Christmas Eve, 1929. Dwight D. Eisenhower held the first televised Presidential news conference in the building's Indian Treaty Room in January 1955. In recent history, Richard Nixon had a private office there during his presidency. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first in a succession of Vice Presidents to the present day who have had offices in the building.Oliver North had his office in Room 302.

A small fire on December 19, 2007 damaged an office of the vice-president's staff and included the VP ceremonial office. According to media reporting, the office of the Vice President's Political Director, Amy Whitelaw, was heavily damaged in the fire.

The OEOB was referred to by Mark Twain as "the ugliest building in America."Harry Truman called it "the greatest monstrosity in America."


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