Design for the continuation of the Treasury Building [graphic] / Tho. U. Walter, architect, Washington, D.C.

Walter, Thomas Ustick, 1804-1887.
1 photoprint : b&w photostat, mounted on paper ; 17 x 33 cm. on 33 x 52.5 cm.
Contained In:
Walter, Thomas Ustick. Architectural drawings collection.

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Public buildings -- District of Columbia -- Washington.
Local subjects:
15th St. & Pennsylvania Ave. (Washington, D.C.). (search)
U.S. Treasury Building (Washington, D.C.) Extension -- 1852-1853. (search)
A second drawing WTU*081*002, previously identified as this building, is no longer considered to be the Treasury building, is cataloged separately, unidentified.
This is a photo of a Walter drawing for a proposed addition. A title label has been included, bottom left, for the purpose of the photo. Anote on the original drawing reads "Approved by Committees of Senate and House of Representatives on Buildings and Grounds at the 1st Session of the 33rd Congress. [Signed] J.A. Bayant(?), Chr., Burton Grise(?), Chr." The drawing is a perspective rendering showing the long west facade facing toward the White House, and the south elevation. Robert Mills long Greek facade of the original 1836 building is on the opposing east side, on 15th Street at Pennsylvania Avenue. The south facade, attributed by some to Walter, is the portion of the building which blocks the view accorded in L'Enfant's plans. A photo, ca. 1860, located in the Athenaeum's architectural archives, and similarly published in James M. Goode's Capital losses (1979) p.293, shows the Mills facade, attached to the old State Department building, which was demolished in 1866, so that the north wing of the Treasury might be constructed. The final site of the Mills Treasury Building was dictated by Pres. Andrew Jackson.
While credit for the design of the Treasury Building, and subsequent additions varies from source to source, it appears to Robert Mills was responsible for the construction, and probably the design, of the original wing on 15th St. at Pennsylvania Ave., between 1836-1842. Alternative views suggest that Mills took this design from William Parker Elliot, who was then associated with Ithiel Town in competition for Washington building projects (See D. Evelyn, The Washington years: the U.S. Patent Office, in Robert Mills, architect, 1989, p. 108-120). However, the nature of the design in relationship to the history of Mills work (See Pierson, Am. buildings and their architects, 1970,1976, p.404-417) and a document dated July 6, 1836 (cite by Evelyn, p. 114) in which President Jackson appointed Mills to oversee construction of the Treasury Bldg., his design, and the Patent Office, Elliot's design, suggests Mills ultimate monumental vision in the long Greek facade.
In 1838, however, as documented by Pierson, Evelyn, and H.M. Peirce Gallagher, Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument, 1781-1855 (1935), work on the Treasury Building was halted, and Mills was called to Congress to answer critism leveled by young Thomas Ustick Walter, among others, concerning the appropriateness of construction materials and the safety of the engineering of Mills design. Mills wins this battle of criticism, and the original portion of the Treasury is occupied by 1842. Ultimately he loses to Walter, however, when in 1851 he is dismissed from his self-style position as "Architects of Public Building", and Walter is appointed "Architect of the Capitol", from which position Walter constructs the Capitol Dome and Extension.
Walter is considered by some as the Supervisor of Construction for all Washington buildings, and according to his diaries, located in the Athenaeum archives, was often consulted on and prepared drawings for other public buildings, for which he was not paid. Walter's diary entry for the Treasury Building, dated Aug. 24, 1852, reads "Interview w/Secy. Stuart, finished plan for addition ... to Treas. Dept., viz Plan of principal story, elevation, north front, elevation, east front, elevation west front, plan of grounds & street."
Ammi B. Young and Isaiah Rogers are credited by D. Reiff, Washington architect, 1791-1861 (1971),p.37 with the later additions to the Treasury Building, generally to Mills design. The best explanation for the neglect of credit for Walter in some sources can be found in Pierson (1970,1976, note 10.16, pg. 479-480) who states that construction was carried out by the Treasury Dept.'s own architects, including Young, Rogers, Alfred B. Mullett, and Capt. Alexander H. Bowman. Because the drawings provided by Walter were so terse, the later architects were forced to work from measured drawings of Mills work provided by Bowman, carrying on the essence of Mills design throughout the completion of the building in ca. 1869.
A Guide to the architecture of Washington, D.C. prepared by the Washington AIA chapter (1965), p. 72, gives the entry "Treasury Building, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., 1836-1869, Robert Mills, Thomas Ustick Walter".
Cited in:
Laverty, v.1, p. 249, WTU*081/002 [sic, WTU*081/001]
Bowman, Alexander H.
Mills, Robert, 1781-1855.
Parker, William Parker, 1807-1854.
Rogers, Isaiah, 1800-1869.
Young, Ammi B. (Ammi Burnham), 1799-1874.