Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Building 1

Building 1, also known as the Commandant’s Office, was built between 1837-1838 as an office for the Washington Navy Yard’s officers.   Latrobe Gate, the ceremonial entrance to the Yard, is directly north from the building.   Building 1 has a Flemish design and is accented by porches on both stories.   Renovations occurred in 1873, 1895-1896, and most recently in 2005-2006.   Throughout the years, the building served as the administrative center for its commandants.   During the Civil War, Commandant John Dahlgren slept next to his office when the 71st New York Infantry Regiment accommodated Tingey House.  President Abraham Lincoln frequented the Yard and visited Dahlgren at his offices in Building 1.   In the mid-1920s, the building served as a living quarters.  Later, it became a Public Affairs Office and a Visitor's Center.   In 1993, historians from the Naval Historical Center (now Naval History and Heritage Command) were housed in the spaces and were joined by the Center’s Underwater Archeology branch.   Following renovations and rededication as the Middendorf building in 2006, it is now occupied by the Commandant of Naval District Washington.    Building 1 is the Navy’s oldest active office building.  

Image:   NH 97843-KN.  Building 1, (right), and National Museum of the U.S. Navy, (left).  Cropped image is taken from an aerial view in the early 1990s.  U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

To learn more about Building 1, please contact our Education Deparment for a spot on the next Walking Tour of the Washington Navy Yard.