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Encyclopedia > Oval Office
The Oval Office from above in 2003, during the administration of George W. Bush. President Bush chose a more somber color palette than his predecessor, using shades of taupe, celadon and navy. The president and Mrs. Bush worked with interior decorator Ken Blasingame on the design of the office.
The Oval Office from above in 2003, during the administration of George W. Bush. President Bush chose a more somber color palette than his predecessor, using shades of taupe, celadon and navy. The president and Mrs. Bush worked with interior decorator Ken Blasingame on the design of the office.

The Oval Office is the official office of the President of the United States. Located in the West Wing of the White House, the elliptical-shaped office features three large south-facing windows behind the president's desk and a fireplace at the north end of the room. Image File history File links Oval_Office_from_above. ... Image File history File links Oval_Office_from_above. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ... Laura Lane Welch Bush (born November 4, 1946) is the wife of the forty-third and current President of the United States of America George W. Bush and is thereby the First Lady of the United States. ... For other uses, see President of the United States (disambiguation). ... The West Wing (in foreground) The West Wing is the part of the White House Complex in which the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, and the Situation Room are located. ... For other uses, see White House (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Ellipse (disambiguation). ... The Resolute desk is the centerpiece of the White House Oval Office. ... Winter (fireplace), tacuinum sanitatis casanatensis (XIV century) A fireplace is an architectural element consisting of a space designed to contain a fire, generally for heating but sometimes also for cooking. ...


The Oval Office has four doors: the east door opens to the Rose Garden; the west door leads to a private smaller study and dining room; the northwest door opens onto the main corridor of the West Wing; and the northeast door opens to the office of the president's secretary. The tulips are in full bloom in the Rose Garden at the White House, April 20, 2005. ...

Dimensions
Major axis: 35' 10" (10.9m)
Minor axis: 29' (8.8m)
Height: 18' 6" (5.6m)
Line of rise (the point at which the ceiling starts to arch): 16' 7" (5.0m)

Contents

Architecture and furnishings

The Oval Office in 1999, during the administration of Bill Clinton. President Clinton's office was designed by Arkansan Kaki Hockersmith who used a vibrant color palette of cream, gold, crimson and sapphire blue.
The Oval Office in 1999, during the administration of Bill Clinton. President Clinton's office was designed by Arkansan Kaki Hockersmith who used a vibrant color palette of cream, gold, crimson and sapphire blue.

Though architect James Hoban's original design for the White House included two oval rooms, the idea of an oval office did not come about until 1909. An oval interior space is a Baroque concept that was adapted by Neoclassicism. Oval rooms became popular in eighteenth century neoclassical architecture, and it is considered likely that Hoban was influenced by the elliptical chamber at Castle Coole in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. That room has identical dimensions, and includes the two recessed niches found in Hoban's original design for the Blue Room. The "elliptic salon"—in the form of the Blue Room and Yellow Oval Room—was the outstanding feature of James Hoban's original plan of the White House. At the temporary "President's House" in Philadelphia, George Washington had two rooms each modified with an apsidal bowed end, which were used for hosting the formal receptions called levees. As his guests formed a circle around him, Washington could stand in the center with everyone an equal distance from the president. The apsidal end of a room was a traditional site of honor, for a host, a potentate, or the magistrate in a basilica. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 480 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (513 × 640 pixel, file size: 104 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 480 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (513 × 640 pixel, file size: 104 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ... James Hoban James Hoban (1762-1831) was born in Desart, near Callan County Kilkenny, Ireland. ... Adoration, by Peter Paul Rubens. ... Late Baroque classicizing: G. P. Pannini assembles the canon of Roman ruins and Roman sculpture into one vast imaginary gallery (1756) Neoclassicism (sometimes rendered as Neo-Classicism or Neo-classicism) is the name given to quite distinct movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that... Castle Coole (pronounced cool) is a late 18th century neo-classical mansion situated in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. ... The Blue Room, looking toward the southeast. ... The Yellow Oval Room shown early in the second Bush administration. ... James Hoban James Hoban (1762-1831) was born in Desart, near Callan County Kilkenny, Ireland. ... Nickname: Motto: Philadelphia maneto - Let brotherly love continue Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: , Country United States Commonwealth Pennsylvania County Philadelphia Founded October 27, 1682 Incorporated October 25, 1701 Government  - Mayor John F. Street (D) Area  - City 369. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... This article is about an architectural feature; for the astronomical term see apsis. ... St. ...

The Oval Office in 1988, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. The drapery originated in the administration of Gerald Ford. President Reagan continued to use the Resolute desk that President Jimmy Carter had returned to the office in his administration. First Lady Nancy Reagan contributed to the design of President Reagan's Oval Office rug and the placement of furniture.
The Oval Office in 1988, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. The drapery originated in the administration of Gerald Ford. President Reagan continued to use the Resolute desk that President Jimmy Carter had returned to the office in his administration. First Lady Nancy Reagan contributed to the design of President Reagan's Oval Office rug and the placement of furniture.

The president's working office moved from the main residence to the newly constructed West Wing in 1902. At first the president had a rectangular office in the West Wing. The first Oval Office in the West Wing was constructed in 1909, during the Taft administration. That office was centered east to west on the south side of the West Wing, much as the oval rooms in the White House residence are. President Taft intended the Oval Office to be the center of his administration. By locating it in the center of the West Wing, he could be more involved with the day-to-day operation of his presidency. The Taft Oval Office had simple Georgian Revival trim, and was likely the most colorful in history; the walls were covered in a vibrant green seagrass. Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981 – 1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967 – 1975). ... Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. ... The Resolute desk is the centerpiece of the White House Oval Office. ... James Earl Jimmy Carter, Jr. ... Nancy Davis Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921) is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. ... Year 1909 (MCMIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was an American politician, the twenty-seventh President of the United States, the tenth Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early 20th century, a pioneer in international arbitration...


On December 24, 1929, during the Herbert Hoover administration a fire damaged the West Wing requiring substantial rebuilding. President Hoover rebuilt the Oval Office in the same location, upgrading the quality of trim and having the first air conditioning installed. Dissatisfied with the size and layout of the West Wing, President Franklin D. Roosevelt engaged a staff architect, Eric Gugler, to redesign the West Wing with the Oval Office placed in the southeast corner, offering more privacy, and easier access to the residence. President Roosevelt worked closely with Eric Gugler and devised a room architecturally grander than the previous two rooms, with more robust Georgian details: doors topped with substantial pediment hoods, bookcases set into niches, a deep bracketed crown molding and a ceiling medallion of the presidential seal. In small ways hints of Art Moderne can be seen, especially in the representation of the eagle in the ceiling medallion. Roosevelt and Gugler worked closely together, often over breakfast, with Gugler sketching the president's ideas. One notion resulting from these sketches that has become fixed in the layout of the room's furniture, is that of two high back chairs in front of the fireplace. The public sees this most often with the president seated on the left, and a visiting head of state on the right. This allowed President Roosevelt to be seated, with his guests at the same level, deemphasizing his inability to stand on his own accord. is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964), the thirty-first President of the United States (1929–1933), was a world-famous mining engineer and humanitarian administrator. ... FDR redirects here. ... Marine Air Terminal, LaGuardia Airport. ...

Seal of the president, in the Oval Office ceiling medallion.
Exterior of the Oval Office as viewed from the South Lawn

A tradition evolved in the latter part of the twentieth century of each new administration redecorating the office to the President's liking. A new administration usually selects an oval carpet, new drapery, the paintings on the walls, and some furniture. Most incoming presidents continue using the rug of their predecessor until their new one is installed. The retired carpet very often is then moved to the presidential library of the president for whom it was made. The redecoration of the Oval Office is usually coordinated by the First Lady's office in the East Wing, working with an interior designer and the White House Curator. Art may be selected from the White House collection, or may be borrowed for the length of an administration. President Clinton borrowed a bronze sculpture of The Thinker by Rodin from a museum. President George W. Bush has borrowed an oil painting titled A Charge to Keep from a longtime Texan friend. Sometimes the look of one administration's Oval Office evolves over time. President George W. Bush at first had the two highback Martha Washington style "lolling chairs" in front of the fireplace upholstered in shades of tan, sage and melon. Media reports referring to the new fabric's melon color as "pink" caused him to request a new fabric replacing the melon with a medium blue. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 439 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (989 × 1350 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 439 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (989 × 1350 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2304 × 1728 pixel, file size: 805 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The Exterior of the Oval Office, as viewed from the South Lawn July 15, 2006 I, the creator of this work, hereby release... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2304 × 1728 pixel, file size: 805 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The Exterior of the Oval Office, as viewed from the South Lawn July 15, 2006 I, the creator of this work, hereby release... A carpet is any loom-woven, felted textile or grass floor covering. ... Drapery refers to cloth or textiles (Latin drappus = cloth and Old French drap) or the trade of selling cloth. ... First Lady Laura Bush and former first ladies, from left, Rosalynn Carter, Sen. ... The East Wing is the part of the White House Complex. ... The Curator of the White House, or less formally White House Curator, is head of the White House Office of the Curator which is charged with the preservation and study of the collection of art, furniture and decorative objects used to furnish both the public and private rooms of the... William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ...


The desk used by many presidents in the Oval Office is a large partners' desk called the Resolute desk, so named because it was built from the timbers of the British frigate HMS Resolute. The desk was a gift of British Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Most recent presidents have hung a portrait of Washington over the mantel on the north end of the room. A tradition of displaying potted Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis) atop the mantel goes back to the Kennedy administration, and the current plants were rooted from the original plant. A series of bronze sculptures of horses and Western themes by Frederic Remington (1861-1909) are often displayed in the room. A large case clock, commonly called a grandfather clock, built in Boston by John and Thomas Seymour, c. 1795-1805, stands in the northeast portion of the room. The Resolute desk is the centerpiece of the White House Oval Office. ... HMS Resolute the desk in the Oval Office HMS Resolute was an Arctic exploration ship of the British Royal Navy. ...


History

The Oval Office in 1934, during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Oval Office in 1934, during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Oval Office has become associated in Americans' minds with the Presidency itself, through memorable images, such as a young John F. Kennedy, Jr. peering through the front panel of his father's desk, Richard Nixon speaking by telephone with the Apollo 11 astronauts after their successful voyage, or Amy Carter bringing her Siamese cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang to brighten Jimmy Carter's day. Use of the Oval Office for television broadcasts has a sense of gravity, as when President Kennedy presented news of the Cuban missile crisis, or President Reagan addressed the nation following the Challenger explosion. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... FDR redirects here. ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. ... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ... The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. ... Amy Lynn Carter Wentzel (born October 19, 1967) is the only daughter of U.S. president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. ... James Earl Jimmy Carter, Jr. ... The Cuban Missile Crisis was the military confrontation, between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba when the Cold War threatened to become a nuclear war. ... Order: 40th President Term of Office: January 20, 1981–January 20, 1989 Preceded by: Jimmy Carter Succeeded by: George H.W. Bush Date of birth: February 6, 1911 Place of birth: Tampico, Illinois Date of death: June 5, 2004 Place of death: Los Angeles, California First Lady: Nancy Reagan... The iconic image of Space Shuttle Challengers smoke plume after its breakup 73 seconds after launch. ...


Design and materials

Oval Office floor, replaced during the administration of George W. Bush. Based on a 1933 design by Eric Gugler, the 2005 installation is arranged in a contrasting radial pattern of quarter-sawn oak and walnut. Most of the floor is usually covered with an elliptical rug.
Oval Office floor, replaced during the administration of George W. Bush. Based on a 1933 design by Eric Gugler, the 2005 installation is arranged in a contrasting radial pattern of quarter-sawn oak and walnut. Most of the floor is usually covered with an elliptical rug.

Since the present Oval Office's construction in 1934 during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt the room has remained mostly unchanged architecturally. More than any president, FDR left an imprimatur on the room and its use. Doors and window frames have been modified slightly. A domestic screen door on the east wall was removed after the installation of air conditioning. During the Cold War window panes were outfitted with small vibrators when it was learned that the Soviets had developed a means of reading the effect of voice sound waves on glass panes. President Johnson's row of wire service teletype machines on the southeast wall required cutting plaster and flooring to accommodate wiring. The Georgian style plaster ornament has been cleaned to remove accumulated paint, and a series of electrified wall sconces have come and gone. Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 459 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (842 × 1099 pixel, file size: 398 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) West wall of the Oval Office following the 2005 installation of a new quarter-sawn oak and walnut floor. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 459 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (842 × 1099 pixel, file size: 398 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) West wall of the Oval Office following the 2005 installation of a new quarter-sawn oak and walnut floor. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ... Year 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display full 1934 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882–April 12, 1945), 32nd President of the United States, the longest-serving holder of the office and the only man to be elected President more than twice, was one of the central figures of 20th century history. ... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ... An electric sconce in the lobby of a luxury hotel Sconce for holding a torch on the walls of the Medici palace, Florence, Italy. ...


Though some presidents have chosen to do day to day work in a smaller study just west of the Oval Office, most use the actual Oval Office for work and meetings. Traffic from the large numbers of staff, visitors, and pets over time take their toll. There have been four sets of flooring in the Oval Office. The original floor was made of cork installed over soft wood, however President Eisenhower was an avid golfer and damaged the floor with his golf spikes. President Johnson had the floor replaced in the mid-1960s with wood-grain linoleum. In 1982, embarrassed by the linoleum floor, President Reagan had the floor replaced with white pine and oak in a radial parquet pattern similar in design to Eric Gugler's 1933 sketch which was never installed. In August of 2005, the floor was replaced again under George W. Bush, in nearly the same pattern as the Reagan floor but replacing the soft white pine with walnut. A cork stopper for a wine bottle Champagne corks Varnished cork tiles can be used for flooring, as a substitute for linoleum or tiles. ... Dwight David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American General and politician, who served as the thirty-fourth President of the United States (1953–1961). ... This article is about the sport. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... A linoleum kitchen floor Linoleum is a floor covering made from solidified linseed oil (linoxyn) in combination with wood flour or cork dust over a burlap or canvas backing. ... Year 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday (link displays the 1982 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ...


In the late 1980s a comprehensive assessment of the entire house, including the Oval Office was made. Detailed photographs and measured drawings were made documenting the interior and exterior and showing even slight imperfections. A checklist of materials and methods was generated for future conservation and restoration. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


References and additional reading

  • Portions of this article are based on public domain text from the White House.
  • The White House: An Historic Guide. White House Historical Association and the National Geographic Society: 2001. ISBN 0-912308-79-6.
  • Abbott James A., and Elaine M. Rice. Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration. Van Nostrand Reinhold: 1998. ISBN 0-442-02532-7.
  • Clinton, Hillary Rodham. An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History. Simon & Schuster: 2000. ISBN 0-684-85799-5.
  • Monkman, Betty C. The White House: The Historic Furnishing & First Families. Abbeville Press: 2000. ISBN 0-7892-0624-2.
  • Ryan, William and Desmond Guinness. The White House: An Architectural History. McGraw Hill Book Company: 1980. ISBN 0-07-054352-6.
  • Seale, William. The President's House. White House Historical Association and the National Geographic Society: 1986. ISBN 0-912308-28-1.
  • Seale, William, The White House: The History of an American Idea. White House Historical Association: 1992, 2001. ISBN 0-912308-85-0.
  • West, J.B. with Mary Lynn Kotz. Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan: 1973. SBN 698-10546-X.

The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

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  Results from FactBites:
 
Oval Office: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (1725 words)
The Oval Office is the official office of the President of the United States.
The Oval Office has four doors: the east door opens to the Rose Garden; the west door leads to a private smaller study and dining room; the northwest door opens onto the main corridor of the West Wing; and the northeast door opens to the president's secretary's office.
That office was centered east to west on the south side of the West Wing, much as the oval rooms in the White House residence are.
The Oval Office (130 words)
The Oval Office is the president's formal workspace, where he confers with heads of state, diplomats, his staff, and other dignitaries; where he often addresses the American public and the world on television or radio; and where he deals with the issues of the day.
The first Oval Office was built in 1909 in the center of the south side of the West Wing; in 1934 it was moved to its current location on the southeast corner, overlooking the Rose Garden.
Among the features that remain constant are the white marble mantel from the original 1909 Oval Office, the presidential seal in the ceiling, and the two flags behind the president's desk the U.S. flag and the President's flag.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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