Musings of a Renaissance Man

The Oval Office

Oval Office by Bryan Brandenburg

The Oval Office

The Oval Office is the president’s formal workspace, where they confer with heads of state, diplomats, their staff, and other dignitaries; where they often addresse the American public and the world on television or radio; and where they deals with the issues of the day.

Built in 1909

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. Each president has decorated the Oval Office to suit his tastes. 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.

Resolute Desk

Since Jimmy Carter, the Resolute desk has been used by all Presidents including Barack Obama. It was made from the timbers of H.M.S. Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an American vessel and returned to the Queen of England as a token of friendship and goodwill. When the ship was retired, Queen Victoria commissioned the desk and presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.

The desk has twice been modified from the original 1880 version. President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the kneehole be fitted with a panel carved with the Presidential coat-of-arms, but he did not live to see it installed in 1945. President Ronald Reagan requested it be raised on a 2″ base to accommodate his 6’2″ frame.

Every president since Hayes, except Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford, has used the Resolute desk. The desk was made famous by a photograph of President John F. Kennedy at work while his son, John Jr., peeked out from behind the kneehole panel.

President Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and the 18th President to occupy the Oval Office.

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