The Treasury Building has been the sight of several disasters. It was burned down in 1814 by the British. That was no surprise, though, as the enemy did the same to the Capitol, the White House, and many other buildings in the city. But the building burned down again in 1833. (It has been said that even President John Quincy Adams had joined the water-bucket brigade to save the building) Deciding where to build the new Treasury Building was almost a disaster as well. After months of haggling with his staff and those on Capitol Hill, President Andrew Jackson stormed out of the White House and slammed his cane into the spot where he declared that the building be built. Although this was approximately the same location of the old Treasury Building, the plans called for a much larger structure. This added bulk proved to be another disaster, to the city design of planner Pierre L'Enfant. The straight line he called for, between the White House and the Capitol, had been destroyed.
With the site-selection finally overcome, construction on the building begun. It took four architects and more than three decades before the building was completed. The first architect was Robert Mills, who was also worked on the Capitol. Politically motivated controversy followed Mills and he was almost forced to tear the first section of the Treasury down in 1838, when Congress objected to its location. In the 1850s and 1860s, the building was extended by the other architects, with a very long pause for the Civil War.
The Treasury Department was the birthplace of the U.S. Secret Service, which was created on July 5, 1865. Its task was to foil counterfeiters and to protect the life of the President and Vice President and their immediate families.
The building has also served as the site for several inaugural events. The first inaugural ball of President Ulysses Grant was held in the north section of the building. It even served as a temporary Oval Office, after the death of President Lincoln. President Andrew Johnson, wishing to give Mrs. Lincoln a chance to pull herself together, turned the reception rooms of the Treasury Secretary into his temporary office.
Tunnels run beneath the Treasury from the White House and to the Treasury Annex.
Sites on the East side of Lafayette Park