Theodore Roosevelt desk

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In the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Office, 1904.

Theodore Roosevelt desk is a Colonial Revival-style double-pedestal desk in the collection of the White House. Made in 1903, it is one of only six desks to have been used by U.S. presidents in the Oval Office.


The desk is made of mahogany. The pedestal on each side has four drawers with thin brass pulls, and a slide-out shelf. There are cabinet doors on the opposite side, but no drawers. The center drawer features a carved shield with vertical stripes below a field of stars.

President Harry S. Truman began a tradition by signing the interior of the center drawer at the end of his term in office.


The desk was designed by architect Charles Follen McKim, who made extensive renovations to the White House during the Theodore Roosevelt Administration. It was made by furniture-maker A. H. Davenport and Company, of Boston, Massachusetts.[1] Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to use the desk, placing it in the Executive Office of the newly-built West Wing.

Roosevelt's successor, President William Howard Taft, doubled the size of the West Wing and built its first Oval Office. He placed the desk at the south end of the room, in front of the three windows. It remained there for over twenty years, and was subsequently used by Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

The West Wing suffered a major fire on December 24, 1929, but the desk was undamaged. An association of Grand Rapids, Michigan furniture-makers donated a new desk, and President Hoover used that for the remainder of his term.[2] President Franklin D. Roosevelt demolished the old Oval Office in 1933, and built the modern one. He used the Hoover desk in both offices. The Theodore Roosevelt desk remained in storage from December 1929 to 1945.[3]

President Harry S. Truman was the first to place the desk in the modern Oval Office. President Dwight Eisenhower, also used it as his Oval Office desk.

President John F. Kennedy used the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. He passed on the Theodore Roosevelt desk to Vice-President Lyndon Johnson.

President Richard Nixon used the Oval Office as a ceremonial space. He placed the desk in an office in the Old Executive Office Building, where he preferred to work. Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution presumes that, "the Watergate tapes were made by an apparatus concealed in its drawer."[4]

Most recently, the desk was used by Vice-President Richard Cheney, 2001-2009, in his ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.


  1. ^ William Allman, White House Curator, "Oval Office Tour, December 1, 2008," CSPAN documentary, 14:45.[1]
  2. ^ William Seale, The President's House (White House Historical Association, 1986), p. 918.
  3. ^ "The Vice President's Ceremonial Office," from The White House.
  4. ^ Hess, Stephen, What Now? The Oval Office. Brookings Institution. January 08, 2009. Accessed July 26, 2013

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