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About the Office of the Clerk

Corridors and Speaker’s Lobby

Speaker's Lobby

Completed in 1857, the Capitol extension—with its marble floors, bronze staircases, and frescoed ceilings—added to the stately atmosphere of the House. The ornate Speaker’s Lobby, behind the doors flanking the Speaker’s rostrum, has huge windows that face south and open onto a balcony. The lobby, where Representatives gather to discuss issues and current events, was originally divided into offices and a hallway. In the 1870s, the House knocked out walls to improve ventilation, creating one grand, airy space. In the nineteenth century, citizens would meet their Representatives near the Speaker’s Lobby to advocate for a cause or bill. This practice is now called lobbying.

Speakers’ Portraits

Henry Clay

The service of former Speakers of the House is commemorated with portraits displayed in the Speaker’s Lobby and adjoining Members’ staircases. This tradition began in 1852, when artist Giuseppe Fagnani donated his portrait of Henry Clay in remembrance of the former Speaker’s death.

Thomas B. Reed

In 1891, supporters of legendary Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed commissioned a portrait by John Singer Sargent, the most prominent American portraitist of his day. The contrast of Reed’s renowned wit and his “impassive and inward turned eye,” as Sargent described it, made this work a particular challenge.

Bronze Stair Railing

Bronze Stair Railing

The Members’ staircase, built in 1857, provides a speedy route from the Speaker’s Lobby to committee rooms on the first floor of the Capitol. Sculptor Edmond Baudin took great pains with the figures in the bronze railings; a deer he used as a model lived in his studio for three weeks.

Images courtesy of the Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives


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