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Over 70 and Still Looking Good

Aerial view from the west of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building and John Adams Building, Washington, D.C. Forms part of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.

The picture to the left is what the Adams Building looks like today, but before January 3, 1939 the area where today’s Adams Building stands looked quite different.  This location once had houses.

After the burning of the Capitol in 1814, Supreme Court sessions were held in nearby quarters generally believed to have been in this old structure at 204 B Street southeast, Washington, D.C.

By the 1920’s it was quite obvious to the Library that it needed more space! In 1928 the land where the Adams Building is now located was purchased to build a new structure called the Annex. Money was appropriated for land, building construction, and a tunnel to connect the Annex to the existing Library building.  The Annex was ready for occupancy on December 2, 1938 and the staff began to move in.

Library of Congress (John Adams Building). Library of Congress annex from roof of main library II . Theodor Horydczak Collection (Library of Congress)

January 3, 1939 is  considered to be the date the Annex was opened to the public. Much of the building was devoted to book stacks and Library personnel, but on the 5th floor two reading rooms were created.  The North reading room has murals depicting Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, while the South reading room has an image of Thomas Jefferson with murals that contain many of his quotes.

Today the Science & Business Reading Room occupies the space devoted to Thomas Jefferson.


  1. Mario Medrano
    January 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Dear Sirs
    Yours Mario Medrano, Guatemala.
    I would ask if you have information about an American citizen named Grady R. Kent, a native of Georgia.
    He was a preacher of the mid-twentieth century, and his work has been evidenced in part.
    If so, I would inform me if I can have access to such information.


  2. Ellen Terrell
    January 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Mario – you may want to submit your comment to either Local History and Genealogy or the Main Reading Room. Below are links to both of their Ask a Librarian forms.


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