In the decade following the end of World War II, Congress added large numbers of professional staff to its workforce. These additional employees soon filled every available Capitol Hill office space. To accommodate its growing staff, the Senate approved the construction of a second Senate office building. As construction of that building neared completion in 1958, Congress also approved an extension of the Capitol’s east front to provide additional working space. The 32-foot addition, built between 1958 and 1962, added 90 prized rooms to the severely overcrowded Capitol complex.
One of the largest of those new rooms was designated S-207 and known alternately as the New Senate Reception Room or the Senate Conference Room. The room included elegant appointments such as walls paneled in American black walnut and a mantel of "Meadow White" Vermont marble. On April 2, 1962, the Senate officially opened the room with a reception attended by President John F. Kennedy and members of the Cabinet. In the years that followed, it would accommodate weekly party caucus luncheons, serve as a dormitory for senators during overnight filibusters, and host countless festive receptions. From 1998 to 2002, the Senate hosted receptions in S-207 following presentations of the Leader’s Lecture Series, which brought former Senate leaders and vice presidents back to the Capitol to address current members and invited guests.
On September 16, 1976, the Senate passed a resolution to name the reception room the Mike Mansfield Room, to honor the Montana senator upon his retirement. Mansfield served 24 years in the Senate, including four years as Democratic Party Whip and 16 years as majority leader. In 1978 the Senate installed in the room a portrait of Mansfield, which was formally donated to the Senate in 1996.
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