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Digital Exhibits

A New Home for the Department

Secretary of Commerce, Undersecretary of Everything Else 

Herbert Hoover as Department of Commerce Secretary, 1921-1928 

Hoover, then president, and his Commerce Secretary William F. Whiting inspect the construction site for the new Department of Commerce building in 1928.


From his first year in office, Hoover advocated for a new federal building for the Commerce Department, which was a the time spread throughout several buildings in Washington, D.C. Construction on a new Commerce building, shown here, began in 1929.

A New Home for the Department

The sweeping changes that Hoover made during his time as secretary shaped the Department of Commerce of today. His influence extends to the building that now bears his name. Hoover began advocating for a larger federal building to house the evolving agency in 1921. By 1926, the need for more space was acute—the department’s various bureaus were scattered throughout ten separate buildings in the Washington, D.C., area.

Using the same trowel that George Washington used to lay the Capitol's cornerstone, Herbert Hoover, then President, laid the new structure's cornerstone on June 10, 1929.  When it opened in 1932, the 1.8 million square foot building was proclaimed to be the largest office building in the world. It was renamed the Herbert Clark Hoover Department of Commerce Building in 1981, in fitting homage to the man who made the Department of Commerce what it is today.