Completed in the spring of 1933, the Longworth House Office Building is the second of three office buildings constructed for the United States House of Representatives as well as a fine example of the Neo-Classical Revival style popular in the second quarter of the twentieth century. It occupies a site south of the Capitol bounded by Independence Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, C Street S.E., and South Capitol Street. (A map of the U.S. Capitol complex showing the locations of the congressional office buildings is available.)
Plans to provide the House of Representatives with a second office building were begun in 1925. Severe overcrowding in the Cannon House Office Building (completed in 1908) led to the renovation of the Cannon Building and the construction of the Longworth Building. It is the smallest office building, with a floor area of just under 600,000 square feet. Under the direction of Architect of the Capitol David Lynn, preliminary designs for the building were prepared by a local firm known as The Allied Architects of Washington (Inc.). The principal architects were Frank Upman, Gilbert LaCoste Rodier, Nathan C. Wyeth, and Louis Justemente. They produced two schemes for a simple, dignified building in harmony with the rest of the Capitol Complex. In January 1929 Congress authorized $8,400,000 for acquiring and clearing the site and for constructing the new building. The foundations were completed in December 1930, and the building was accepted for occupancy in April 1933.
Because of its position on a sloping site, the rusticated base of the Longworth Building varies in height from two to four stories. Above this granite base stand the three principal floors, which are faced with white marble. Ionic columns supporting a well-proportioned entablature are used for the building's five porticoes, the principal one of which is topped by a pediment. Two additional stories are partially hidden by a marble balustrade. It presents a somewhat more restrained appearance than the neighboring Cannon Building, which was designed in the more theatrical Beaux Arts style. The Longworth Building takes its place along with the National Gallery of Art (1941) and the Jefferson Memorial (1943) as one of Washington's best examples of the Neo-Classical Revival.
When the Longworth Building was completed, it contained 251 congressional suites, 5 large committee rooms, 7 small committee rooms, and a large assembly room now used by the Ways and Means Committee. It was in this room, which seats 450 persons, that the House of Representatives met in 1949 and 1950 while its chamber in the Capitol was being remodeled. The building was named in 1962 in honor of Nicholas Longworth of Ohio, who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives (1925-1931) when the building was authorized.