List of Oval Office desks

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Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sit in the Oval Office with the Resolute desk, the desk they both used, in the background.

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.

The Oval Office[edit]

Main article: Oval Office

The current Oval Office is the second iteration of this room and is the official office of the President of the United States. It is located in the West Wing of the White House complex. The Oval Office Desk sits in front of the south wall which is composed of three large windows.

President William Howard Taft constructed the first permanent West Wing to the White House.[1] Designed by Nathan C. Wyeth Completed in 1909, this wing included the first official Oval Office, intending it to be the hub of his administration.[2] On December 24, 1929, during President Herbert Hoover's administration, a fire severely damaged the West Wing. He reconstructed the part of the White House affected, including the Oval Office, reopening them later in his presidency.

Dissatisfied with the size and layout of the West Wing, President Franklin D. Roosevelt engaged New York architect Eric Gugler to redesign it in 1933. Gugler's most visible addition was the expansion of the building eastward for a new Cabinet Room and Oval Office.[3] The modern Oval Office was built at the West Wing's southeast corner, offering FDR, who was physically disabled and used a wheelchair, more privacy and easier access to the residence. He and Gugler devised a room architecturally grander than the previous two rooms, with more robust Georgian details. Rather than a chandelier or ceiling fixture, the room is illuminated by light bulbs hidden within the cornice that "wash" the ceiling in light.[4] Construction of the modern Oval Office was completed in 1934.

The desks[edit]

Desk Used as Oval Office Desk by Notes Current Location Picture
Theodore Roosevelt desk William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover[a]
Harry S. Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
This desk was created in 1903 for then President Theodore Roosevelt. It was first used in the Oval Office by William Howard Taft, and remained there until the West Wing fire in 1929. It remained in storage until 1945 when Harry S. Truman placed it in the modern Oval Office. Richard Nixon used this desk in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution presumes, "the Watergate tapes were made by an apparatus concealed in its drawer." [5] Vice President's Ceremonial Office,
Eisenhower Executive Office Building,
Washington, D.C.
Alt=The Theodore Roosevelt Desk in the Taft Oval Office, c. 1910.
Hoover desk Herbert Hoover[a]
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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 after the new office was completed. It measures 82 inches by 44 inches.[6][7] Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum,
Hyde Park, New York
Alt=Franklin D. Roosevelt seated at the Hoover Desk
Resolute desk John F. Kennedy
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Donald Trump
This desk was created from wood salvaged from the HMS Resolute and given to Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1879.[8] The desk resided in the White House in various rooms, and had a hinged front panel added to it by Franklin D. Roosevelt, until Jacqueline Kennedy found it languishing in the "White House broadcast room."[8] She had it restored and moved into the Oval Office.[8] After Kennedy's death, the desk was removed for a traveling exhibition, returning to the Oval Office under Jimmy Carter in 1977. It has been the Oval Office desk ever since with the exception of the George H.W. Bush presidential years. Oval Office,
The White House,
Washington, D.C.
Alt=Barack Obama sitting at the ornate Resolute desk in 2009
Johnson desk Lyndon B. Johnson This desk was used by Johnson from the time he was in the United States Senate up through his tenure in the Oval Office.[9] Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Austin, Texas Alt=Lyndon Baines Johnson seated at the Johnson desk, 1968.
Wilson desk Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Nixon used this desk both as Vice President and President as he believed it was used by Woodrow Wilson. In actuality the desk was not used by Woodrow Wilson nor by former Vice President of the United States Henry Wilson which was later suggested. Vice President's Room,
United States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
Alt=Gerald Ford at the Wilson Desk, 1975.
C&O desk George H. W. Bush George H. W. Bush used this desk during his tenure as both Vice President and President of the United States. It was created for the owners of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway around 1920, and subsequently donated to the White House. Previously, Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan had used it in the West Wing Study.[5]  ? Alt=George H. W. Bush seated at the C&O desk, 1990

Chronology[edit]

Barack Obama George W. Bush Bill Clinton George H. W. Bush Ronald Reagan Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford Richard Nixon Lyndon B. Johnson John F. Kennedy Dwight D. Eisenhower Harry S. Truman Franklin D. Roosevelt Herbert Hoover Calvin Coolidge Warren G. Harding Woodrow Wilson William Howard Taft


Chronology of Oval Office desks[5]
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
Hoover desk
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
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 – January 20, 2017
45 Donald Trump January 20, 2017 – Present

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Herbert Hoover used the Theodore Roosevelt Desk until the 1929 West Wing fire. After the reconstruction of the Oval Office he switched to the Hoover Desk.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Seale, The President's House, p. 895.
  2. ^ "The White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home" – CSPAN Documentary
  3. ^ Seale, The President's House, pp. 946–49.
  4. ^ Seale, The President's House, p. 948.
  5. ^ a b c Hess, Stephen, What Now? The Oval Office. Brookings Institution. January 08, 2009. Accessed September 9, 2010
  6. ^ William Seale, The President's House (White House Historical Association, 1986), p. 918.
  7. ^ President Hoover's Executive Office Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c The President's Desk. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Accessed September 9, 2010
  9. ^ The White House. Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. accessed September 10, 2010