Skip to main content
Building Conservation Associates

U.S. Capitol

Location: Washington, D.C. 
Year Built: 1793 - 1811 
Original Architect: William Thornton 

BCA has been contracted by the Architect of the Capitol to document original decorative painting schemes in several locations throughout the Capitol building, including the first floor Senate Connecting Corridor and the second floor Senate Chamber entrance corridor. The Senate Connection Corridor links the well-known and highly ornate Brumidi Corridors to the central dome of the Capitol, and dates to the 1850s. The elaborate trompe l’oeil paintings that originally adorned the Senate Connecting Corridor’s walls and ceilings, depicting architectural elements such as paneling and cartouches, still remain under several layers of more modern paint. The walls of the Senate Chamber entrance corridor also originally featured trompe l’oeil paintings, but the paints have since been covered. 

At the Senate Connecting Corridor, BCA’s work included the documentation of this early trompe l’oeil painting through raking light investigation, in situ exposures, and cross-section microscopy. This documentation provided the Architect of the Capitol with the necessary information to guide the replication of this significant decorative finishes scheme. For the Senate Chamber entrance corridor, BCA’s work began with archival research, which revealed a number of historic photographs showing evidence of decorative painting on the ceilings and walls. BCA looked for evidence of said decorative painting using in situ raking light investigation, cross-section microscopy, and paint exposures. This project involved documenting the full paint history of the corridor and providing a paint color match to each distinctive layer. BCA is currently developing a restoration paint scheme for the South Senate Corridor based on BCA’s paint analysis.