Speaker’s Lobby and Members’ Retiring Room
After the House moved to the new south wing of the Capitol in 1857, the Speaker’s
Office occupied space behind the chamber, in the center section of what is now the
Member’s Retiring Room.
Montgomery C. Meigs, supervising engineer of the Capitol extension, noted that these
rooms would be “very convenient and very beautiful…and on each side
a retiring room; thus affording to each of the great parties…a room for consultation.”
Original features that remain today include bronze cherub-shaped sconces, Tennessee
marble fireplace mantels designed by Architect of the Capitol Thomas U. Walter,
and the colorful Minton floor tiles.
In 1879, the House attempted to remedy longstanding ventilation problems by opening the entire area behind the chamber
, including the Office of the Speaker, who moved to another room near the chamber.
Virtually all the walls in the rooms behind the chamber were removed. This new airy
space became the lounge known as the Member’s Retiring Room adjacent to the
The Speaker’s Rooms (detail), albumen print stereoview, c. 1867Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives