Skip to main content
Notice: The Library is open for research by appointment only, please visit our research services page for more information.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Records, 1966-1978

Accession: 2000Identifier: 2000-IV.-C.

Part of collection: John McShain papers (2000)


  • Creation: 1966-1978

Historical Note

In August of 1966, John McShain, Inc., entered into an agreement with the U.S. General Services Administration to build the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The original estimate was for $41 million. The architect for the project was Edward Durrell Stone. Construction began on September 8, 1966, and was supposed to be completed on January 19, 1969. However, the project was not finished until June 30, 1972 at a cost of $72 million. As with Columbia Plaza delays and cost overruns resulted in numerous lawsuits. The government was slow to compensate John McShain, Inc., which in turn was slow in paying subcontractors. McShain sued the government for $6 million in damages and the government filed a counter claim for $2 million to fix the leaky roof. On February 4, 1977, the suits were settled, John McShain was paid $1, 960, 000 and Congress voted $4, 500, 000 to repair the roof.

Scope and Content

The records describe the Kennedy Center Project and the resultant law suits in detail. Included are project specifications, subcontractor files, minutes of project review meetings, correspondence with the architect, the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, and the General Service Administrator, investigation of construction and design deficiencies, the GSA report on "What Went Wrong with the Kennedy Center?" and related legal correspondence


From the Collection: 266 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Additional Description

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

These records are located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at

Related Names


Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA