This section is from the book "The National Capitol. Its Architecture Art And History", by George C. Hazelton, Jr. Also available from Amazon: The National Capitol Its Architecture Art and History.
On February 13, 1807, in discussing in the House an appropriation of #20,000 for the furnishing of their new chamber, where is now Statuary Hall, Mr. Jackson made the objection that, if approved, " the superintendent would think himself obliged to procure gilded chairs and plated tables." Even if the tables were small, he said, " there would be so much the more room. As the present furniture was good for nothing else, it must, unless used by the Houst, be put into a bonfire" ; and he was against the destruction of so much property. Much laughter was caused by Mr. Masters declaring that they had " been told, formerly, that twenty thousand dollars was enough for all the fortifications in the United States." Mr. Lewis seemed to have no fears of waste, as the money was to be expended under the direction of the President, and everyone knew Jefferson's principles of economy. He added that, though he might never again be a Member, yet " if he did he should, he believed, be as willing to sit on a stool as other gentlemen. But the present furniture would not suit the new chamber in the south wing." This proved to be correct, for when the House moved and the desks were taken from the chamber where it had been sitting, Latrobe says: "It was found utterly impracticable either to place the desks on the new platforms, or to accommodate the platforms to the desks, without destroying all convenience within the House." $2,164.66 out of the $17,000 which had finally been appropriated for fitting up the new hall were therefore expended in purchasing new and better desks. Similar desks were adopted after the restoration.
When the House first moved into its present chamber, the Members were accommodated with handsomely carved oaken desks and chairs. These were later removed; and for one session, benches similar to those in the House of Commons were used, with desks for writing in the corners of the room. These were quite inadequate, however, to the Members' spirit of independence and desire for elbow-room. Upon the removal of the benches, the former desks were replaced, but were later succeeded by the present schoolboy desks. Some of the old benches are still to be seen in the Supreme Court chamber, where they are used for the accommodation of visitors. Of late years, a new moquette carpet has been laid upon Ihe floor before the assembling of each new Congress.