National Archives and Records Administration



Introduction

Construction of Federal Buildings

During the period following the Civil War, between 1866 and 1897, the federal government designed and built some 300 new buildings throughout the nation. The Office of the Supervising Architect, a federal office located in Washington, DC, maintained tight control over these construction projects. It provided detailed drawings communicating every conceivable aspect of a building's design and construction to the architects supervising the work at the various construction sites.

Collectively, these drawings provide meticulous documentation of federal buildings constructed during the last half of the 19th century; individually, many of them stand alone as works of art.

Details of ironwork of stairs of the
U.S. Courthouse and Post Office,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1890

Shown here is a rendering of the ornamental ironwork for the interior of a federal building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The National Archives Cartographic and Architectural Branch preserves an estimated 2.5 million architectural and engineering drawings created by government agencies.

Details of ironwork of stairs of the U.S. Courthouse and Post Office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1890

Details of ironwork of stairs of the U.S. Courthouse and Post Office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1890

National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Branch, Records of the Public Buildings Service

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Design of doorknob for the
U.S. War Department Building
(now the Old Executive Office Building),
Washington, DC, ca. 1880



Design of doorknob for the U.S. War Department Building

National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Branch, Records of the Public Buildings Service

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Introduction
American Originals 2



National Archives and Records Administration
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Last updated: July 1, 1998
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