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Fun Facts about Presidential Furniture

February 19, 2021

Fun Facts about Presidential Furniture

Fun Facts About Presidential Furniture 

Presidential Pieces You Can Add To Your Home


Initially started to honor our nation’s first president, Mr. George Washington's birthday on February 22, this now federal holiday is considered to be a celebration of all U.S. presidents. As part of this nod to history and honoring our nation’s leaders, we’re sharing some fun facts about presidential furniture at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


The Swivel Chair

Sir Thomas Jefferson in 1775 felt that the Windsor Chair he had been using for work while drafting the Declaration of Independence didn’t offer him enough movement, so he resolved to create something that did. The modification involved introducing an iron spindle between the top and bottom half which allowed the chair to rotate on rollers taken from window sash pulleys. Later a half side desk was also added as seen below.



Cabinet Room Table

The Kittinger Company, based in Buffalo NY, was commissioned by President Nixon to refurbish the West Wing, after an overseas trip Nixon took to Europe where he concluded that the White House was not decorated in an elegant enough manner. Kittinger Company produced an elegant 22 foot, 24-chair Cabinet Room table that’s still in use today. Nixon paid for the table himself, a mere $6,000 then, and it’s virtually priceless today.

1817 Furniture Budget

President James Monroe spent the entire $20,000 special furniture fund Congress established for incoming president’s to remodel the White House all on furniture shipped from France alone.


Lincoln

President Lincoln and his wife Mary spent their allowance of $20,000 in 1861 on carpets, china, cut glass, draperies, wallpaper and other items from the finest department stores of Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.


The White House

President Teddy Roosevelt made the name “White House” official in 1901 by using it in official correspondence. 


The Resolute Desk

Built from a shipwreck, and containing a secret door to hide FDR’s legs, the Resolute Desk is far and away the greatest of the presidential desks.The desk first came to America in 1879 as a gift from Queen Victoria who had the oak timbers of an abandoned British naval vessel used to create the it. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt, having to wear leg braces due to his polio, had a hinged panel to allow his leg braces to fit. This secret door is emblazoned with a carved presidential seal—one of the few seals in the White House that features the eagle facing the arrows instead of the olive branches. The Resolute Desk did not make it to the Oval Office until the presidency of John F. Kennedy when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had it installed in the Oval Office as part of her overall restoration of the White House.

It has remained the Oval Office desk of every president since—with the exception of George H.W. Bush—serving Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.


Some other fun facts shared here by Penny Mustard Furnishings:

  1. President Chester Arthur refused to occupy the White House until it was completely redecorated. He auctioned off all of the old furniture – twenty-four wagon-loads along with thirty barrels of china.
  2. Some of the oldest pieces in the White House include Bellange chairs that date back to the early 1800s. The exquisite Parisian pieces were part of President Monroe’s refurbishing efforts after the 1814 fire

3. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was presented with an intricate grand piano from the Steinway family. Featuring gold leaf decoration and gilded mahogany legs. This piece of art is still often played by the Marine Band at gatherings.



Presidential Pieces You Can Add To Your Home

The Presidential furniture style embodies many aspects of America’s heritage, using wood from several different species, copper, nickel, iron, and leather. Presidential furniture embraces America’s historical symbolism, focusing on statement pieces with paneling, detailed woodwork, and a hand-crafted feel.


The decor style builds on the White House’s traditional and historic charm, such as an antique canopy bed, Queen-Anne style furniture, and use of chandeliers. These elements establish an antique charm. Using a neutral color palette ranging from beige and yellow to olive also creates a peaceful, but stable feeling.


Some examples of Presidential style furniture below that can easily be added to any home’s decor include sturdy wood desks and bookcases, to canopied beds, and simple and comfortable sofas and sitting chairs.


 

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