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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 9, 1999
                    BILL SIGNING CEREMONY FOR S.1652

                            The Oval Office
                            November 9, 1999

Today, the President will sign into law S. 1652, a bill to designate the Old Executive Office Building located as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

S. 1652 designates the Old Executive Office Building the Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building. This legislation was sponsored in the Senate by the late Senator John Chafee (R-RI) and in the House by Representatives Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ralph Hall (D-TX). S. 1652, passed by voice vote in the House on October 26th, and by unanimous consent in the Senate on October 19th.

The Old Executive Office Building was designed by Alfred Mullet in the 1860's under the Grant Administration to house the State, War, and Navy Departments. Mullet, the architect selected by the Congressional Commission, was also the Architect of the Department of Treasury. To the surprise of some, his winning design was not Greek Revival (like the Treasury Building), but instead French Second Empire. This style was more flamboyant and exuberant than Washington had seen until that point, but one that reflected the optimism of the post-Civil War period. Ground was broken in 1871, and 17 years later the building was completed. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and ranks first among historic buildings in the inventory of the General Services Administration's Public Buildings Service.

As planned, the building was first occupied by the State, War, and Navy Departments. During this period of use, the building has housed sixteen Secretaries of the Navy, twenty-one Secretaries of War, and twenty-four Secretaries of State. During this time, many prominent national leaders have carried out their work there as well. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Taft, Eisenhower, Johnson, Ford, and Bush, had offices in the OEOB before becoming President. All Vice Presidents since Lyndon B. Johnson have maintained offices there.

Over time the building's original tenants left, concluding this departure in 1947. As the State Department moved out and the President's staff began moving in, the OEOB lost its moniker as the `State, War & Navy Building,' and became known simply as the Executive Office Building. When a new office building was built across the street, the OEOB became the `Old' Executive Office Building.

Dwight D. Eisenhower served as our 34th President. Born in Denison, TX, and raised in Abilene, KS, he spent a lifetime in public service. A graduate of West Point, he had the privilege of being assigned to staff some of the country's best-known military figures: Generals Pershing, MacArthur, and Marshall. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. After the war, he became President of Columbia University, then took leave to assume supreme command over the new NATO forces being assembled in 1951. He ran for President in 1952 and won.

For all that he did to secure democracy and peace in this century, Dwight Eisenhower stands as one of this country's great leaders. Dwight D. Eisenshower obtained a truce in Korea and worked incessantly during his two terms to ease the tensions of the Cold War.

In Domestic policy President Eisenhower continued most of the New Deal and Fair Deal Programs. As desegregation of schools began, he sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure compliance with the orders of a Federal court, and he also ordered the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces. "There must be no second class citizen in this country," he wrote at the time. He left office in 1961 and, after a long illness, died on March 28, 1969

President Clinton will be joined today by John and Susan Eisenhower. John Eisenhower, the President's son, was born in 1922. Like his father he had a career in the army; later he became an author and served US ambassador to Belgium from 1969 to 1971. Susan Eisenhower, the President's granddaughter, is the President of the Eisenhower Group, a Washington , DC based consulting firm. She is also the founder and Chairwoman of the Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a non-profit organization that conducts research on a myriad of foreign policy issues. Susan Eisenhower currently serves on the White House Millennium Committee and the National Trust for Historic Preservation as Co-Chairwoman of Save America's Treasures. In the last year, she was also appointed to the National Advisory Council of NASA.