A Landmark Lesson: The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government.

The Architect of the Capitol

What makes the U.S. Capitol "symbolically important"? Presented with a variety of archival documents, your students can answer that question for themselves. Working in small groups, the students will uncover and share the Capitol's story. The primary sources are presented to the students as mysteries, with a challenge to tie together the information in the documents or images through research.

Guiding Questions

What happens in and around the U.S. Capitol?

What makes it an important U.S. landmark?

Learning Objectives

List events in American history that have affected the U.S. Capitol.

Identify activities taking place in and around the Capitol.