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Restore, Reuse, Repurpose

For our renovation of the Riggs Bank Hall space, it is important that we incorporate elements of the original structure into the new Visitor Center. We engaged with several different kinds of building treatments, such as preservation, rehabilitation, salvage and adaptive reuse of original building materials in order to accomplish this goal. Through our renovation process, MCAAD is adding to this building’s already complex history. We want to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to engage with and understand the building's history through its architecture, while also creating a new space that is inspiring and fosters innovation and community.

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History of the Bank Buildings

In 1840, William Wilson Corcoran, formerly a leader at the Second Bank of the United States, and George Washington Riggs, a neighbor of Corcoran’s and part of an influential New York banking family, founded the banking firm, Corcoran & Riggs. It went on to fund significant events in U.S. history, including the expansion of the Capitol building in the early 1860s. As a result of representing numerous presidents, beginning with John Tyler and including Abraham Lincoln, Riggs Bank eventually earned the nickname “Bank of Presidents.” The Riggs National Bank building was constructed on 1503 Pennsylvania Ave in 1899 by architects York & Sawyer. An addition was built in 1922 by Appleton Clark, and is now known as 1505 Pennsylvania Ave.

The American Securities and Trust Bank was founded in 1889 and built its headquarters next to the Riggs National Bank building in 1904, on 1501 Pennsylvania Ave. It was also designed by architects York & Sawyer and intended to appear as one building. The bank became a major player in Washington DC real estate and finance, and financed a number of buildings in the Federal Triangle. Notably, the bank was the first to have a “Ladies Department” in a DC financial institution.

    Meet the Team

    Over the years, from the original architects on, many individuals have dedicated their time to creating these magnificent spaces. Meet some of the people working on our current renovation. 

    The President’s Backyard

    Our Visitor Center is situated just 1,500 feet from the White House in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood. Read more about our neighbors and the history these buildings have witnessed.