The National Statuary Hall is a large, two-story, semicircular room south of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Also known as the Old Hall of the House, it was the meeting place of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1819 to 1857, replacing an earlier House chamber that was destroyed when British troops burned the U.S. Capitol in 1814. Built in the shape of an ancient amphitheater, it is one of the earliest examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States. Massive columns of breccia marble quarried along the Potomac River stand around the perimeter of the room. The original smooth curved ceiling caused annoying echoes, making it difficult to conduct the business of the House. The myth persists that John Quincy Adams took advantage of the acoustics to eavesdrop on colleagues conversing on the opposite side of the room. The Old Hall was used until 1857, when the House moved into the present chamber in the new House wing. A use for the vacated Hall remained uncertain until a proposal was put forth to use it as an art gallery. The original wooden ceiling was replaced with cast steel and a new marble floor was installed, eliminating most of the problems with echoes in the room. The lack of wall space made the room well-suited for the display of statuary. In 1864, Congress invited each state to contribute two statues of prominent citizens for permanent display in the room. Missouri contributed statues of Thomas Hart Benton and Francis Preston Blair.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution