Old Washington (Treasury Building)
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, August 20, 1910 [pt. 2 p. 3]
From less than forty rooms three-quarters of a century ago and to near a hundred and fifty half a century ago, and to about seven hundred at present, the Treasury Department is adding on more rooms for its force and remodeling the main entrance to that portion of the building which half a century ago was looked on as one of the finest pieces of architecture in the capital of the nation.
The story of its evolution from the erection of the original building, which became the official residence of Oliver Walcott and his three dozen Treasury clerks in 1800 to he present is not without interest, and, needless to say, those who worked in that building never dreamed of such a building as the present one. This was a brick structure of two stories and basement, located at the southwest corner of 15th and F streets, the latter street been projected westward into the reservation, and, like the President's house and corresponding executive building occupied first by the War Department, faced south. The arrangement of the rooms, about sixteen on a floor, was the same in each. The Treasury building conained the offices of the Secretary and the controller on the second floor, while the auditor, register and treasurer occupied the first floor. The treasurer then had but four clerks and two rooms sufficed for the force now reprewsented by hundreds.
This building on the afternoon of January 20, 1801, came near destruction by fire. It was discovered in one of the room sof the register on the first floor, and burned to the floor above, but the citizens and clerks, with the fire engine purchased a few months before for the department, extinguished it before any serious damage was done. A fireproof building was erected in 1804 a short distance northwest of this building. In these buildings meetings of citizens were frequently held in the early days, and one church, Dr. Laurie's, long located on F street west of 11th, was organized here.
Destroyed by the British
In March, 18i33, the third fire took place here, and the destruction of the building was complete. The offices were re-established in rented buildings on the site now covered by the Hotel Regent, at the southeast corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 15th street. By the act of July 4, 1836, the Prewsident was directed "to erect a fireproof building of such dimensions as may be required for the present and future accommodation of he department." The plans of Mr. William P. Elliot, long known as an architect and surveyor, were accepted. This was that portion of the building originally built of sandstone, with columns of the same material, the front of which has recently been granite-plated and the old columns replaced by more substantial ones. The work on that portion on 15th street was first completed, and by 1840 most of the offices moved therein, and as the west wing was completed the building was fully occupied.
Cost of New Structure