If you are planning a trip to Washington DC, there is a good chance that you won’t run out of things to do. Anyone who is interested in their home, the United States of America, can find plenty to do in Washington DC. There are two places in Washington DC that most tourists include on their list of stops. First, just about everyone who visits Washington DC takes a guided tour of the White House. The next stop on the list is often Capitol Hill.
There are plenty of things to see on Capitol Hill. There are libraries, museums, and other things that you would expect from a building in our nation’s capital. If you are very observant, there is something that you can see that you would never expect. There are “Elf” Doors in the Capitol Hill Building. Are they there because people were much shorter back when the construction first began? Since they are only a couple of feet high and not even a child could walk through the door, this isn’t the case. There is actually a reason that these “Elf” doors exist all around the Capitol building.
People didn’t think too much about these doors for years. Many people never even noticed them during the visits because they are located so close to the ground. Rebecca Rainey is a reporter for Independent Journal Review, and she took a tour of the Capitol building. When she saw the doors, she took photos of them and posted them on social media. She wanted people to wonder what the doors were for.
When she posted the photos, she didn’t post the story behind them just yet. Instead, she left the question open to her followers about what they think the doors were for. She got some pretty hilarious comments, and one follower had the best. They wrote, “True Story: They had these doors installed for the Keebler Elf. Now that he’s not in the Senate anymore, who knows what they’ll be used for.” This comment is hilarious since everyone knows that the Keebler Elf is fictional, and he has never been a senator.
Christmas Eve 1851
After Rebecca read the hilarious comments, she decided to post the real story of the purpose of the doors. Back on Christmas Eve 1851, a fire ripped through the Capitol building. Back then, it was home to the Library Of Congress. It was a place where all of the most historical documents and collections were kept. Thomas Jefferson was an author, and all of his most famous works were held there. Things from his own personal collection were also stored there. When the fire broke out, it was devastating.
John Jones was the security guard on duty that night. When he discovered the fire, there wasn’t much that he could do. There was no water access to this part of the building, so he had to run downstairs to get some water. By the time he returned with the little bit that he could carry, the whole library had been swallowed up by the fire.
Firefighters from seven different fire stations were able to put out the fire; however, many important things were lost in the process. Sadly, two-thirds of the Jefferson collection was gone, along with other priceless materials. The reason that most of the library was destroyed along with many important documents inside was that John Jones didn’t have immediate access to water.
Army Corps Of Engineers
When it was time for the building to be repaired, the Army Corps of Engineers knew that they had to do something after hearing Jones’ report of what happened. They knew that they had to figure out a way to provide water access to the entire building.
The “Elf” Doors
The engineers decided to build tiny doors around the Capitol building to conceal the newly installed water faucets. The doors are located all over the Capitol building because if there is ever another fire, they will need water access everywhere. The janitors who clean the floors in the Capitol building also use the tiny doors to fill their buckets with water.
The real reason behind the tiny doors make sense, but the story isn’t as exciting as if the Keebler Elf were actually a member of the Senate, and he used those doors to get to his very important meetings. You can visit the Capitol building, and I can guarantee that you won’t be seeing any elves walking the halls. At least we know that if there ever is a fire in the Capitol building that our nation’s documents and history will be safe.