Health, Education and Welfare Department building on Independence Avenue, the corridors were dark and the reception desks where for weeks the eager brought their problems and their resumes were empty.
A single leather glove and a white shirt still in its laundry plastic wrapping lay abandoned on the desks in front of the handwritten note taped to the wall: "The transition offices are officially closed as of 4 p.m. Jan. 19."
Left behind the departed Carter-Mondale transition workers, many of whom moved into White House or Executive Office Building offices at noon yesterday, were signs of some of their final concerns as they wouund up the most public, most publicized preparation for power in American history.
An advertisement for a tuxedo rental shop was posted in a couple of places with a handwritten caption: "20 per cent discount for transition staff."
In Stuart Eizenstat's corner office, cardboard boxes marked "Eizenstat's files, 2d floor, West Wing, White House" were being packed for their cross twon trip. Jimmy Carter was just leaving the White House to take the oath of office and it was less than an hour before Eizenstat would officially become the assistant to the president for domestic affairs and policy.
Other boxes lined an empty hall - job seekers by alphabetical order - Lottman, Michael to Macht, William P." and one marked "High Priority, files and resource material on the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Appalachian Regional Commission."
Lots of other cartons had already departed pursuant to the wall of the National Archives, which "asked to be provided memos, drafts of option papers, briefing books, policy plans, procedural papers, and other documents and correspondence that are of historical significance," according to a memorandum from transition leader Jack Watson.
The memo added that National Archives representatives were also conducting "an oral history review" of the transition.
At noon, Watson became assistant to the President for intergovernmental relations and Cabinet secretary. He walked out of the transition offices, presumably for the last time, shortly after 11 a.m., heading for the Capitol and the inauguration ceremony.
By then, the only people in transition headquarters except for those packing up for Eizenstat were Claudia Townsend, Janet McMahon and Pat Bauer, who are going to work on the daily news summary for the Carter White House.
They were reading the newspapers they would later summarize, answering occasional phone calls and talking about finding apartments. At noon they would travel to the White House to get their government identification cards and go to work.
One last petitioner had made her way past the security guards in the lobby. Helen Olszewska was handing out eight pages describing the various projects she wished President Carter would think about.
"Presidential Intercommunication Line," her organization, suggests that its ideas gathered from "rank-and-file citizens" will reduce the costs of the Carter administration and that a percentage of this saving should be returned to the "Intercommunication Line" people to help them build their organization.
Olszewska wrote on another page: "One spaceship after another beams this message to us: 'It will be longer than you think before another earth is found. Conserve the only one you have.'"
One floor below, William Yanniello, executive officer for facilities engineering and property management of HEW, was fixing up his office. He just moved up from the third floor and came in yesterday despite the holdiday to organize his things so he could get some work done today.
"Most Saturdays and holidays," Yanniello said , "the parking lot is three-quarters full."
Government workers apparently take inauguration day holidaygs particularly seriously. Yanniello and Jim Steen, a social science analyst, were the only workers to be found in the hundreds of fourth-floor offices.
Spokesmen for the Labor, Interior and Agriculture departments said no duty officers were required to be in their offices yesterday. As at HEW, the only workers on hand were volunteers.
When the 21-gun salute to Carter was fired at the Capitol a few hundred yards away, Carnell Canada of the Voice of America, whose offices are in the building, was working over a ledger sheet covered with columns of numbers. "A lot of work. It's budget time," Canada explained, when asked why she was working on the holiday.
From the front windows of the HEW (north) building you could look down on an equestrain assembly area for the inaugural parade. White horses with scarlet blankets, dark ones with uniformed riders and dozens of flags filled the field. It was a gay scene and there were lots of empty offices to watch it from.