Sites to See
Original Headquarters Building (OHB)
In the 1950s, the same firm that designed the United Nations Headquarters building also designed OHB to reflect former Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Allen Dulles’s vision of a location where intelligence officers could work near the policymakers in a secure and secluded environment. President Dwight D. Eisenhower laid the cornerstone on November 3, 1959, and construction ended in November 1963. The building consists of 1,400,000 square feet of space and with the companion New Headquarters Building, occupies the 258-acre campus.
With the words that sculptor Harold Vogel inscribed in July 1974, “In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in the service of their country,” this wall—with one star carved for each honored officer—stands as a silent, simple memorial.
This glass-encased book sits on a marble shelf below the Memorial Wall—a small gold star represents each fallen officer. Many lines in the book are blank, indicating that even in death some names must remain secret. This memorial is a constant reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and of the risks inherent in the intelligence profession.
On the floor of the OHB lobby entrance, this 16-foot-diameter inlaid granite seal has been the CIA emblem since it was approved by President Harry Truman in 1950. The seal has three main features: an American bald eagle, our national bird and a symbol of strength and alertness; a shield, the standard symbol of defense; and a 16-point compass rose, representing intelligence from around the world, converging at a central point.
A single star carved into the wall represents the 116 officers who lost their lives while serving in the OSS during WWII. The names of the fallen are listed in the glass-encased OSS Book of Honor which sits on a marble pedestal.
During WWII, Major General William J. Donovan directed the OSS, the CIA’s predecessor. Although he never officially held the title of “Director of Central Intelligence,” the CIA considers him the first DCI because of the importance he placed on intelligence. His leadership and legacy ensured the US would have an intelligence-gathering agency that operated during peacetime as well as war.