Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building

Senator Philip A. Hart BuildingOn 20 May 1987, Phil Hart’s friends, family and Senate colleagues dedicated the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building. Earlier, much had been written about the disparity between the grandiose, pretentious structure and the simple, unpretentious senator. Those in attendance at the dedication, however, were there to listen to the dignitaries honor Phil’s memory. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he idealized Phil’s sense of public trust.

“The last thing Phil Hart ever wanted was a building in his name,” said Senator Edward Kennedy, the principal speaker. “But we went ahead and named it for him anyway because we loved him.”

“He was not a Speaker of the House of Representatives, but now he ranks with Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn. He never served in the Senate leadership, but he ranks with Russell and Dirksen now. And all of us who knew him would put him in the pantheon of the greatest senators of all, Webster, Calhoun, and Clay.” Kennedy was overcome with emotion when he said. “He was like a brother to me.”

Janey Hart was particularly pleased with the words inscribed above the main entrance to the Hart Building. “You should read the dedication,” she later instructed an interviewer. She hoped that every young person who was thinking of entering politics would read the inscription and say, “That is the way I can be.”

“This building is dedicated to the memory of Philip A. Hart with affection, respect and esteem. A man of incorruptible integrity and personal courage strengthened by inner grace and outer gentleness, he elevated politics to a level of purity that will forever be an example to every elected official. He advanced the cause for human justice, promoted the welfare of the common man and improved the quality of life. His humanity and ethics earned him his place as the conscience of the Senate.

Excerpt from Philip Hart: The Conscience of the Senate by Michael O’Brien, 1995