OHB Cornerstone

About the OHB Cornerstone

In May 1959, with the site under security surveillance and contractors wearing security badges, work began on the Original Headquarters Building. On November 3 of that year, President Eisenhower came to Langley to place the time capsule and to lay the cornerstone. But that November ceremony was largely symbolic. The box and cornerstone were later removed and held for safekeeping until they were permanently installed more than a year later. (The silver-engraved trowel the President used can be found in the CIA Museum Collection.)

When the press asked Dulles after the ceremony what was in the box, he smiled and said, “It’s a secret.” Despite the DCI’s joke, everything in the copper-covered steel box was unclassified. In addition to the items mentioned below, the National Security Medal, the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Intelligence Star, and the Intelligence Medal of Merit were added to the box later.

Contents of the cornerstone box include:

Memorandum for President Franklin D. Roosevelt from Major General William J. Donovan, director of the Office of Strategic Services, dated November 18, 1944, regarding the establishment of a permanent centralized intelligence service; and Memorandum from President Roosevelt to General Donovan, dated April 5, 1945, directing that General Donovan discuss his plan with the appropriate officials of the Government.

President Harry S. Truman’s Executive Letter of January 22,1946, establishing the National Intelligence Authority and the Central Intelligence Group.

Statement of General (then Lieutenant General) Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Director of Central Intelligence, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, on April 29, 1947, in support of the sections of the proposed National Security Act of 1947 to establish the Central Intelligence Agency.

Text and Explanation of Statutes and Executive Orders relating specifically to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including Enabling and Appropriations Acts for the construction of the new CIA building.

Reproduction of the CIA seal and its official description.

“William J. Donovan and the National Security,” a speech by Allen W. Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence, to the Erie County Bar Association, Buffalo, New York, May 4,1959.

An aerial photograph of the CIA building site.

Drawings of the CIA building as it would appear when completed.

Invitation to the Ceremony, the Program, a recording, and photographs of the Cornerstone Ceremony.

Microfilm copies of daily and weekly newspapers of 3 November 1959.

The plaque contains the names of those who participated in the Original Headquarters Building Cornerstone Ceremony.

The Debrief: Behind the Artifact – Cornerstone

Warning: This video below may contain flickering or flashing scenes.