A National Historic landmark, the U.S. Department of Treasury Building was constructed in multiple phases dating back to the 1830s.. Prior to that time, the first Treasury building was a simple two-story brick structure with a basement and attic. This modest treasury was damaged by fire within its first six months. During the repair of the original treasury building, a vault extension was added, a feature that would be the only part of the building to survive the War of 1812.
As the nation and its government grew following the War of 1812, Congress decided to build a more permanent structure for its treasury. Architect Robert Mills won the design competition and construction began in the 1830s. The project ran into multiple difficulties and Congress even debated whether they should demolish what Mills had started. Congress decided to stick with Mills and his design, and the building was completed in 1842. It would be expanded during the 1850s and also in the midst of the Civil War.
The most notable feature of Mills’ design was a 350-foot long Greek inspired colonnade. This architect also completed the east and
center sections of the present building. In 1844 the entire sandstone building
was painted white. In subsequent years, architect Thomas Walter designed an expansion that was began in 1855. Construction was halted in 1858 due to rising financial
concerns, but the project was complete three years later under the direction of architect Ammi B. Young.
Then came the Civil War and the completion of the south wing
in 1862. Young stepped down and Isaiah Rogers was brought in to oversee the
addition of the west wing. Within a couple years Alfred Mullett became the
supervising architect. The west wing remained a focus through the war years and
was completed near its end.
Then it was time to start the north wing. In 1867 the State
Department building was demolished to make room for the north wing. It was largely
completed two years later, in time to host the Inaugural Reception of President
Ulysses S. Grant in the popular Cash Room. A few details lingered into 1870
when finally after 34 years of work and additions, the Treasury Building was
In 1919 an annex building was constructed across the street
from the Treasury Building. The Treasury Building itself has been the recipient
of various upgrades from electrical to technological throughout the years.
After a brief time of being in disrepair and another fire, it has seen regular
cleanings as well major renovations and upgrades to continue to modernize the
initial structure.Guided tours of the building are available.