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This isn’t quite the way we picture our Capitol Building as it sits atop Capitol Hill in Washington DC.  Even the earliest pictures we have of the historic building (constructed in 1793) show the building as a white structure.  No, this picture isn’t photoshopped or saturated to make the building look red.  No, the person in charge of renovating the building didn’t mistakenly start painting the building red and just decided he liked it better that color.  Since the building was erected, it has been “burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored”.  Actually, in 1959, around the time this picture was taken, the capitol was undergoing one of its many restorations.  Already almost 200 years old at the time, the Capitol needed a major makeover!

Workmen had to scrape existing paint down to bare iron, sandblast the iron, and repaint before the iron began to rust.

Since bare iron rusts quickly it had to be treated with a red protective rust inhibiting coating within five hours of paint removal. Corroded and cracked metal was repaired or replaced where necessary, loose bolts were tightened, and missing bolts replaced. New bronze window frames were installed in the tholus and the interior bracing in the Statue of Freedom was reinforced. Repairs were made to the drainage system and flashing, and the Dome was completely inspected and repaired using stainless steal wherever extra strength was needed.

So there you have it.  A red Capitol Building.  Will we ever see this anomaly again?

Here’s a glimpse of what our Capitol Building looks like currently under it’s latest renovation…



[Notice: This official Architect of the Capitol photograph is being made available for educational, scholarly, news or personal purposes (not advertising or any other commercial use). When any of these images is used the photographic credit line should read “Architect of the Capitol.” These images may not be used in any way that would imply endorsement by the Architect of the Capitol or the United States Congress of a product, service or point of view.To learn more about the US Capitol, click here.  To see more red Capitol pics, click here.]

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