President’s Dining Room

This photo I found in the Getty Images collection answers a lot of questions about the President’s Private Dining Room. With the doors open, you can see a steward in what must be the little butler’s pantry. The pantry inside the dining room is in place in 1970, where it looks to be home to a movable TV cart (perhaps LBJ used the room as a dining room—Nixon seems to have inherited a round table in that 1970 photo).

It’s clear also from the new photo that there is no door on the north wall of the corridor to the Oval Office, so that whole space must be the president’s lavatory, and must have been so since the Reagan era. However, there used to be doors on that wall in the Nixon era and as early as 1962 but not in 1961 so that must have been to an earlier little pantry and a smaller lavatory changed by Kennedy late ’61/early ’62

I also just realized that the president’s lavatory used to be the narrow room later expanded to be the President’s Private Study. It’s clearly marked that way on the 1934 Time – Life floor plan. Now the President’s Private Study has changed too, for some reason. In the later Kennedy era, the door was was next to the Oval Office. But at some point, by the Johnson era it was moved to be next to the dining room and still is.

UPDATE: Reader Gary points out that the 1961 photo is flopped. Damn these photo editors! Don’t they know to put the shiny side up?

18 thoughts on “President’s Dining Room

  1. I think the 1961 photo of JFK was taken in Mrs. Lincoln’s office, between the oval and the cabinet, rather than in the private study.

  2. Rod, I think you’re right. I searched and searched for those framed photos and didn’t find them, but now I think that cabinet at his elbow is the same one behind Mrs. Lincoln’s desk in the LBJ picture. It makes more sense that she would have a plain portrait of him in her office, too.

  3. In Cecil Stoughton’s book, “The Memories JKF 1961-1963”, on page 150, there is a photo of Mrs. Lincoln’s office, with the same swearing-in photo and the same bookcase along the west wall.

  4. I found a few photographs of Mrs. Lincoln’s office, which I have sent to Derek. They all probably were taken by Cecil Stoughton. They are from Mrs. Lincoln’s collection of photos. They all show the same bookcase and the swearing-in photo on the room’s west wall. One shows the same JFK head shot photo to the left of the swearing-in photo as in the photo of JFK reading the newspaper.

  5. You said (quote): It’s clear also from the new photo that there is no door on the north wall of the corridor to the Oval Office, (end quote) Well, I don’t quite agree. The lamp’s light on the corridor ceiling makes me think there must be a corner to the left, invisible in this view. Take the picture, it’s the same view from opposite side. That same wall is on the right hand, and the door to “500” should be in the corner there turning right. Also the lamp is in the corridor’s center, so in the picture from the dining room there must be more space between it and the Oval Office door than the picture makes us think there is. Hope to help you.

  6. Yes. Pete just sent me those new pics of Bush and Cheney in the corridor and I put them up right away. I was thinking that there was a door on the end (the west face) but it’s actually on the north face in the indent. That makes the lavatory a weird shape, tho, so maybe the part that juts out is actually something else, accessible from the corridor on the other side.

  7. I am in initial agreement with Derek. The existing area we’ve know to be the potus bathroom always seemed too tiny to me. Having it open to the left into that larger area makes sense.

    However Derek makes another good point which is, is that area something else accessible only from the corridor on the other side?

    In this photo you can see a staffer getting their coat from the corridor in the area in question. So one has to wonder how large the closet is. Who knows really

  8. See this photo for a bit of a scale study to help the discussion.

    For the sake of look I went ahead and made walls 9″ thick on all interior walls of the WW. So everything we see is not a hyper accurate size/dimension but well within a forgivable ballpark figure.

  9. Hmmm. Logically, the president should have a closet of his own and a lavatory of his own. And given the general sense of history in the place, it seems unlikely that the lavatory would not be wheelchair accessible. The door labeled 500 is perfectly placed and sized to be a coat closet, but then where is the door to the lav? Is “500” military code for a toilet or something?

    You know, for years when I was younger and studying the WH along with other buildings, I thought the door to this corridor was the hidden one and that the door to the Roosevelt Room corridor was the fancy one. And I thought the hidden door opened directly into a lavatory. In my defense, a study of medieval castle garderobes left me open to pretty much any possibility when it came to toilets.

  10. I think that we can’t rule out that the 500 door is still the door to the lav. LOL. Sometimes we just need a solid source to confirm.

  11. In this photo I noticed the small storage area to the right just before the Oval Office door. I wondered if it was a place to put boots in the winter so as to not get the OO dirty. Just a guess.

  12. I recall that during the 1970s, there were doorways to a private restroom and to a small butler’s pantry on the north side of the interior hallway west from the oval to what is now called the president’s dining room but back then was President Nixon’s secretary’s office.

  13. The April 10 added LIFE Magazine photo of 1961, shows the hallway from the oval to the “president’s dining room”, but that visible doorway along the north side of the hall was the entrance to a butler’s pantry. The doorway to the restroom is on the same north side of the hallway but is obscured by the doorway to the oval.

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