From the EEOB to the National Mall

The Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) is a huge, overpowering building patterned after the French 2nd Empire architecture. Where the White House is small and unpretentious, the EEOB can only be described as “over the top”.  Built between 1871- 1888, for years it was the world’s largest office building, with 566 rooms and about 10 acres of floor space. Many White House employees have their offices in the massive edifice.

Its ornate architecture has been heaped with scorn over the years. Mark Twain called it “the ugliest building in America” and President Harry S. Truman referred to it as “the greatest monstrosity in America.”

Much of the interior was designed by Richard von Ezdorf using fireproof cast-iron structural and decorative elements , including massive skylights above each of the major stairwells and doorknobs with patterns indicating which of the original three departments (State, Navy, or War) occupied a particular space. But you can’t take a tour to see these elaborate decorative touches, the building is locked down tight.


We left the EEOB for the National Mall. First stop the World War II Memorial. Dedicated May 29, 2004 by President George W. Bush, the memorial honors Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II.

Designed in a large oval with 2 triumphal arches and 56 pillars that surround a center fountain, the pillars represent the 48 states that existed in 1945, the District of Columbia, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii and the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Arches are inscribed as the Atlantic (North) and Pacific (South).

The Memorial includes two inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings. Their inclusion in the memorial acknowledges the significance of the symbol to American soldiers during World War II and how it represented their presence and protection wherever it was inscribed.

The Freedom Wall on the west side of the memorial has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”.


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