List of Oval Office desks

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President Barack Obama sitting at the Resolute desk in 2009.

The Oval Office is the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Six desks have been used by presidents in the Oval Office: the Theodore Roosevelt desk, the Hoover desk, the Resolute desk, the Johnson desk, the Wilson desk, and the C&O desk.

The first Oval Office was constructed in 1909, rebuilt after a 1929 fire, and demolished in 1933. The current Oval Office was completed in 1934.

The Theodore Roosevelt desk has been used by seven presidents in the Oval Office, making it the longest-serving desk. Prior to that, it was used by Theodore Roosevelt in his (non-oval) Executive Office, 1903-1909.

The C&O desk was used in the Oval Office for one four-year term, 1989-1993, making it the shortest-serving desk.

Chronology[edit]

The Theodore Roosevelt Desk in the Taft Oval Office, c. 1910. The Taft Oval Office suffered a major fire, 1929.
Franklin D. Roosevelt seated at the Hoover Desk, 1935. Now in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York.
Lyndon Baines Johnson seated at the Johnson desk, 1968.
Gerald Ford at the Wilson Desk, 1975.
George H. W. Bush seated at the C&O desk, 1990.
Presidency President Dates in office Desk
27 William Howard Taft March 4, 1909 - March 4, 1913 Theodore Roosevelt desk
28 Woodrow Wilson March 4, 1913 - March 4, 1921
29 Warren G. Harding March 4, 1921 - August 2, 1923
30 Calvin Coolidge August 2, 1923 - March 4, 1929
31 Herbert Hoover March 4, 1929 - March 4, 1933 1st. Theodore Roosevelt desk
2nd. Hoover desk (after fire)[1]
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt March 4, 1933 - April 12, 1945 Hoover desk
33 Harry S. Truman April 12, 1945 - January 20, 1953 Theodore Roosevelt desk
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower January 20, 1953 - January 20, 1961
35 John F. Kennedy January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963 Resolute desk
36 Lyndon B. Johnson November 22, 1963 - January 20, 1969 Johnson desk
37 Richard Nixon January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974 Wilson desk
38 Gerald Ford August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977
39 Jimmy Carter January 20, 1977 - January 20, 1981 Resolute desk
40 Ronald Reagan January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989
41 George H. W. Bush January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993 C&O desk
42 Bill Clinton January 20, 1993 - January 20, 2001 Resolute desk
43 George W. Bush January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009
44 Barack Obama January 20, 2009 - Incumbent

[2]

Theodore Roosevelt desk[edit]

The Theodore Roosevelt desk was created in 1903 for Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United States. It was the first and longest-serving desk in Oval Office history. It was placed there by William Howard Taft, and remained for twenty years, until the December 1929 fire. It was replaced by the Hoover desk in 1930, and remained in storage until 1945. Harry S. Truman placed it in the modern Oval Office, where it also was used by Dwight Eisenhower. Richard Nixon used this desk in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in his "working office". Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institute presumes that, "the Watergate tapes were made by an apparatus concealed in its drawer." [2]

Hoover desk[edit]

A December 24, 1929 fire severely damaged the West Wing, including the Oval Office. President Herbert Hoover accepted the donation of a new desk from a group of Grand Rapids, Michigan furniture-makers, and used it as his Oval Office desk.[3] President Franklin D. Roosevelt demolished the old Oval Office and built a new one, completed 1934. He used the Hoover desk in both the old Oval Office and the new one.

The Hoover desk is part of the collection of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

Resolute desk[edit]

Main article: Resolute desk

The Resolute desk was created from wood (English Oak) salvaged from the HMS Resolute and given to Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1879.[4] The desk resided in the White House in various rooms and usages, without much change until Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933 and had a hinged front panel with a carved Seal of the President of the United States on it to "hide his iron leg braces from view and to conceal a safe.".[2] The desk continued to be used by presidents in various places and for various reasons throughout the White House, until Jacqueline Kennedy found it languishing in the "White House broadcast room," had it restored, and then had it moved into the Oval Office.[4] After Kennedy's death, the desk was taken out of the Oval Office for a traveling exhibition with the John F. Kennedy Library.

President Jimmy Carter returned the desk to the Oval Office in 1977, where it remained until George H.W. Bush had it removed in favor of the C&O Desk. Bill Clinton subsequently returned the Resolute Desk to the Oval Office in 1993, where it has remained since.

Johnson desk[edit]

The Johnson Desk was only used for one presidency, the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.[2] This desk was used by Johnson from the time he was in the United States Senate up through his tenure in the Oval Office.[5] The desk currently resides at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. After Johnson retired he was known to go to the museum and sit at his desk to "surprise unsuspecting museum visitors." [2]

Wilson desk[edit]

Main article: Wilson desk

The misnamed Wilson desk was used by only two Presidents in the Oval Office: Richard Nixon and subsequently Gerald Ford after Nixon's resignation. Nixon chose this desk as his Oval Office Desk due to his belief that it was used by former President Woodrow Wilson. Nixon had used the desk in the Vice President's Room of the United States Capitol during the Eisenhower Administration and, when he become president, he had it moved to the Oval Office. Nixon referred to the desk in 1969 in his "Silent majority" speech stating, "Fifty years ago, in this room and at this very desk, President Woodrow Wilson spoke words which caught the imagination of a war-weary world."[6] In actuality the desk was not used by Woodrow Wilson and Nixon was informed by one of his speech writers, William Safire, that the desk was actually used by Vice President of the United States Henry Wilson, under President Ulysses S. Grant's administration. This also was untrue as the desk was not ordered until 1897 or later by Garret Augustus Hobart, more than 22 years after Wilson's death. The "Wilson Desk" name appears to be a misnomer as it has never been used by anyone with the last name of "Wilson."

C&O desk[edit]

Main article: C&O desk

The C&O desk was used by George H. W. Bush during his tenure as both Vice President and President of the United States. Originally created for the owners of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway circa 1920, it is a replica of an English style, double pedestal desk. It was donated to the White House where it was used by Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan as the desk located in the West Wing Study.[2]

See also[edit]

Media related to Oval Office desks at Wikimedia Commons

References[edit]

  1. ^ "... the great mahogany desk presented to Hoover by furniture makers in Grand Rapids." William Seale, The President's House (White House Historical Association, 1986), p. 918.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hess, Stephen, What Now? The Oval Office. Brookings Institute. January 08, 2009. Accessed September 9, 2010
  3. ^ William Seale, The President's House (White House Historical Association, 1986), p. 918.
  4. ^ a b The President's Desk. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Accessed September 9, 2010
  5. ^ The White House. Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. accessed September 10, 2010
  6. ^ The Wilson Desk. Snopes.com. August 16, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2011.