The Pension Building was completed in 1887 to house the staff and records of those who fought for the Union in the Civil War. Probably the most famous use of the large open space is as host of several Presidential inaugural balls over many years. As its primary function of housing the pension bureaucracy became unnecessary, the building was disused until taken over by a private non-profit to house exhibits of the building trades.
The building architecture was preserved to honor the unique architecture, with the beautiful interior columns, and the exterior frieze, a memorial that wraps around the entire building. The building is now largely unused with a few exhibits in rooms around the ring.