C&O desk

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President Bush meeting with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, John H. Sununu and Robert Gates at the C&O desk.
President Bush meeting with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, John H. Sununu and Robert Gates at the C&O desk

The C&O desk is one of only six desks ever used by a President of the United States in the Oval Office. Of all the Oval Office desks this one was used there only by George H. W. Bush. The C&O desk, built around 1920, is one of four desks built for the owners of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O). It was later donated to the White House by Chesapeake and Ohio's successor, CSX Transportation.

Design and markings[edit]

The C&O desk, constructed around 1920, is a walnut[1] reproduction of an eighteenth-century English Georgian double pedestal desk (also known as a partners desk) with drawers located on both sides of each pedestal.[2]


Jimmy Carter in his study sitting at the C&O Desk on August 7, 1978

The C&O desk was commissioned around 1920 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway as one of four desks to be built for the owners of the company.[3] It remained in the company's headquarters in Ohio for many years.[3] After a series of mergers, then newly named Chessie System merged with Seaboard Coast Line Industries on November 1, 1980, to form the new CSX Corporation.[4]

In the years prior to this merger, CSX donated the C&O desk to the White House and it was placed in the Oval Office Study. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan all used the desk there.[2] On May 2, 1985, the desk was moved, and then Vice President George H. W. Bush started using the desk as his main work space in the White House. When Marlin Fitzwater, White House Press Secretary under both presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, was asked about Bush's use of the C&O desk, he stated that "...he got used to it, found it comfortable, [and] thought it was attractive."[3] After his presidential inauguration on January 20, 1989, the C&O desk was used in the residential portion of the White House, and on June 13, 1989, it was moved into the newly decorated Oval Office.[3] The Resolute desk, the Oval Office desk removed for the C&O, was placed briefly in the White House storage room,[3] but found a final resting place for the Bush White House in the Treaty Room which Bush used as an ancillary office.[5]

George H.W. Bush only served one term as president and after Bill Clinton's inauguration the C&O desk was removed to make way for the return of the Resolute desk to the Oval Office.


The location of the desk from its construction to present day and each tenant of the desk is as follows:

Dates Tenant Location
1920 – May 1975 C&O Railway owners Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
May 1975 – January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford Oval Office Study
White House
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
January 20, 1981 – May 2, 1985 Ronald Reagan
1987 – January 20, 1989 George H.W. Bush Vice president's Office
White House
January 20, 1989 – June 13, 1989 White House Residence
June 13, 1989 – c. January 20, 1993 Oval Office
White House


Replica Oval Office at the George Bush Presidential Library

A replica of the C&O desk is located in the George Bush Presidential Library, in College Station, Texas, as a part of a full-scale replica of the Oval Office furnished as it was during Bush's presidency.[6] The replica desk was created by Eli Wilner & Company, New York.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Parmet, Herbert S. George Bush: the life of a Lone Star Yankee. p.365. Transaction Publishers, 2001. Accessed December 24, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Hess, Stephen (January 8, 2009). "What Now? The Oval Office". Brookings Institution. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e NATION : Bush Replaces Kennedy's Desk. Los Angeles Times. June 16, 1989. Accessed December 22, 2011.
  4. ^ Interactive timeline Archived 2011-10-10 at the Wayback Machine CSX. Accessed December 22, 2011.
  5. ^ Bush Koch, Doro (October 6, 2006). My Father, My President: A Personal Account of the Life of George H.W. Bush. Hachette Digital. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
  6. ^ List of Areas. George Bush Presidential Library. Retrieved December 21, 2011.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to C&O desk at Wikimedia Commons