EEOB Historical Facts

James Thurber worked in the building as a code clerk during World War I.

During the inaugural of 1902, troops were quartered in the building - accounts say the number was about 3000.

In 1899 the cleaning women (charwomen) were paid $20 a month. Superintendent Baird bought a mechanical scrubber (roughly a bicycle with two rotary brushes) which enabled 2 or 3 women to do the work of 8 - 12. Considering it a threat to employment, the women resisted the machine and Baird gave up the notion.

The usual personnel count was put at 2,260 people, but in 1918 there were 4500 employees in the building. During the flu epidemic, twice a day, they were marched from the building to the street for a hygienic breather. It was about this time that the communal water drinking glasses were removed from the building.

Secretary of War Taft is credited with the installation of the extra brass railings at the stairs. It is said that he asked for the installation after slipping down the steps one day.

When Taft later became President, the family cow "Pauline" was often seen grazing on the lawn of the State Department, now the south lawn of the OEOB, from 1909 to 1913.

There were once wooden swinging doors on the corridor side of each doorway. They were removed at an unknown date. Oral history leads us to a story of Winston Churchill visiting the building, and upon arriving at one door, an eager young staffer ran out of the office - knocking the cigar out of his mouth. Perhaps this expedited the removal of the doors.

In the 1950s, the Eisenhower Administration conducted a survey of office space in the building that called for tearing down the building and construction of a new, more space-efficient one. The cost of tearing it down was too large, and the plan was scrapped.

From 1885 until 1936, a time-ball located on the flag pole of the East Center roof of the building operated to signal noon. It was similar in action (although smaller and not as flashy) as the one seen on New Year's Eve in Times Square. It was once considered a customary feature of ports - navigators could use the ball to check chronometers.

Telephone and telegraph lines were first installed in the building in 1881 by the Army Signal Corps.

Length of corridors: 1-1/2 miles

Number of inside doors: 1314

Number of windows: 1572

Number offices approx. 550

Peak occupancy: 4500 in July 1918

Total years for construction: 17 (1871-1888)

Cost of construction, 1988: 10 million dollars

First lightbulb used in bulding: 1893

First televised Presidential Press Conference ever made: January 19, 1955 in Room 474, President Eisenhower

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: 1971

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building


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