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The Treasury West Wing and West Stairs: History & Chronology

​Chronology
​1857-1865 – The west wing of the Treasury building was begun in 1857 under Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb and Supervising Architect Ammi. B. Young as an extension of the south wing of the building.
​1859 -1860 – Little work was done on the west wing due to the need to fund efforts for the Civil War. In late 1859 Bureau of Construction engineer Alexander Bowman detailed the costs to preserve the unfinished parts of the west wing in their current condition if construction continued to be halted.
​1861 – West wing basement is completed and due to the strength of its' construction is chosen as the shelter for President Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet in the event of a sudden attack on Washington, DC.
​June 1862 – Isaiah Rogers is named Engineer in Charge and, eventually, Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department replacing Ammi B. Young. Rogers had been supervising the construction of the west wing prior to his new appointment.
​July 9, 1862 – After prodding by Secretary Salmon Chase to resume construction of the West Wing, stone columns and pilasters that were previously cut and sitting around the site began to be raised into position.
​May 1863 – Architect Alfred B. Mullett is named the "First Assistant Superintendent for the Treasury Extension" [west wing] under Supervising Isaiah Rogers. Later that year Rogers adapted the design of the west wing "attic stories" to accommodate the increased use of machinery for printing and packaging paper currency. Getting the National Note Bureau up and running was driving the urgency to complete the west wing. Due to inadequate ventilation the dome over the west stairs was redesigned to help ventilate the operations in the "attic".
​1865 – Alfred B. Mullett assumes duties Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department including the completion of the west wing, and eventually the design and construction of the north wing.
​1865 – The year generally accepted as the completion of the architecture of the west wing of the Treasury building even if some of the room interiors were not completed by this date.
​1868 – Mullett is critical of the Rogers design of the west stairs "dome" enclosure and in the Annual Report of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department details his concerns regarding Isaiah Rogers protective design solution that covers the west stairs:


"I desire to call attention to the unsightly protuberance over the west front, generally supposed to be a shot-proof turret on the "monitor" principle erected for the defense of the building, but which was supposed by its designer to be a sky-light. Efforts have been made to use it for that purpose since its completion, though without much success. I recommend its removal and the erection of a sky-light to the main stairwell that will give some light and ventilation to the building without disfiguring the exterior." 

​1869 – Rogers enclosure over the west stairs is removed by Mullett and Congress appropriates $8,500 for "completing the main stairway, west wing".
​October 30, 1869 – Annual Report of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury Department. Regarding the west stairs (p.193), "The improvements on the main west staircase are rapidly approaching completion, and will, it is believed, afford sufficient light and ventilation to that portion of the building, while the removal of the "monitor turret", referred to in my last report, has materially improved the exterior appearance. Work on the stairway at the northwest angle of the building is now progressing in a satisfactory manner, though commenced later in the season…" 
​October 30, 1870 – Annual Report of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury, "The extensions of the skylight and interior dome have been completed, and add greatly to the comfort and appearance of the building."
Last Updated: 7/3/2014 10:18 AM

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