Open post: State Dining Room chairs

There are two sets of chairs in common use in the State Dining Room: a large set of gilt chairs with unusual spindle backs and a smaller set of upholstered mahogany Queen Anne-style chairs. I believe the Queen Anne chairs date from the 1902 renovation and the gilt chairs from the Kennedy administration, purchased after one of the old bent-wood chairs broke under JFK during a dinner, but I’m not sure.

12 thoughts on “Open post: State Dining Room chairs

  1. The dining table and Queen Anne chairs were placed in the State Dining Room during the 1902 renovation. The manufacturer was the A.H. Davenport furniture company of Boston MA. Three large console tables were also made by the Davenport company and have remained in the room as well.

    The large set of guilt chairs were indeed added during the Kennedy administration. It was Mrs. Kennedy who first used the round tables at White House dinners. Each table sat 8 to 10 people. She felt that using the round tables contributed to a more enjoyable dining environment. Using the round tables also made it possible to seat more people in the State Dining Room. Previously one large horseshoe shaped table was used for White House dinners.


  2. I read somewhere (in the Government Report on the Truman Rennovation, maybe?) that an additional number of chairs – to match the 1902 Queen Anne upholstered chairs – were reproduced to augment the existing ones. Or maybe I just dreamed it. Or maybe I was in one of Wingnut’s epic Tour-of-the-White-House dreams.

    Hmmmm… I wonder if Queen Elizabeth sat on Queen Anne tonight? : )

  3. Mamie Eisenhower introduced the E shaped banquet table, with the head of the table at the north wall. The Eisenhower’s and their guests sat in “throne-like” carved wooden chairs with their two state guests. All of the others sat in dark bentwood chairs. West says that Mamie didn’t feel that the First Lady should have her back to so many guests. It might have been one of the carved chairs that broke under Kennedy, but I don’t know.

    Watching last night on C-Span, I can definitely tell you that the Queen did not sit on Queen Anne. She sat in one of the gilt chairs at a round table in front of the State Dining Room Fireplace between the President and the Chief Justice of the United States.

  4. Again, according to West, the additional Queen Anne chairs were ordered by Mamie Eisenhower.

  5. I don’t know if you want to start a post on the State Visit of Queen Elizabeth, but here’s another comment. It was interesting to see the central Blue Room window raised high with the bottom open so that First Couple and Royal Couple could walk out through the Blue Room and stand on the South Portico and wave to the crowd.

    C-Span showed the Clinton China up close and it is a very elegant and beautiful set with its heavy gold rim and the White House at the center of the service plates.

  6. The Clinton China is indeed very beautiful. I saw pieces of it at the Clinton Library a couple of years ago. It seems each library has a table setting of White House China. I know the Carter Library uses the Truman and the Ford Library uses the Johnson. The White House Historical Association also has pictures of the Clinton China on its pages as well.

  7. I think JFK broke one of the New York federal chairs, either in the Family Dining Room downstairs, or the President’s Dining Room, upstairs.

    Dennis – thanks for clarifying that Mammie re-oredred the extra upholstered Queen Anne chairs. I should have remembered that from J.B. West’s book. I have most of it memorized!

    The Clinton China is beautiful – but all I can think of when I see the architectural elevations of the North Front on the service plate is sitting, chained to a hot drafting table… producing, um, architectural elevations! As much fun as it is, they still call it “work”. : )

  8. Enjoyed reading about the State Dining Room…very informative… Could anyone please tell me… what period and style are the beautiful gilded chairs that Mrs. Kennedy began using with the round tables for state dinners? I’m assuming the about 80 chairs are reproductions. Thank you!

  9. Anonymous should be Elaine. I wasn’t sure just how to sign up with the options. Have not blogged before. Will try to solicit help in the future to appear as Elaine. 🙂

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