Just posted a new pic of George Reedy’s office as press secretary and was stunned to realize that the pointy-nosed fish on his wall (and previously Bill Moyers’s) was not JFK’s sailfish previously mounted in the “Fish Room”
PS. Next time you’re in a restaurant with swordfish on the menu, ask the server if you can get it “with extra sword.” They love that.
I think it’s interesting to observe how “government issue” many rooms of the west wing were back in the 1960s (and obviously before then). The “Fish Room” in the 1960s, with nothing but standard G.I. furnishings, and a presidential flag casually stuck in a corner, looked a lot like a typical mid-level Pentagon office did during the same period.
One thing President Nixon did well was dress up those west wing rooms, with Williamsburg-style furnishings and fixtures.
Yeah Rod. I saw in a book where Nixon got a tour of the Situation Room and the basement of the West Wing and Nixon with his hands in his pockets turned to his CoS and shuddered “Do something about this place”.
Back in the 1960s, the situation room looked like a conference room in a construction trailer.
Pete– Yeah but [insert Nixon-disliked-locality joke here].
This is what I have found out about the changes in the interior hallway between the oval and the “president’s dining room”, beginning in the 1960s: At least as of the Kennedy Administration, that hallway had two doors on the north side. The one closest to the oval was to a restroom; the one closest to the “dining room” (at that time, an office shared by Kenny O’Donnell, the President’s Appointments Secretary, and his aide — I think Meyer Feldman) was a pantry for service of beverages and food to the President. You can see the two doors in that hallway in the photo on http://whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/presidents-dining-room.htm titled “The room as the office of the “president’s secretary” (White House chief of staff) around 1962, looking northeast”.
Late in the Johnson Administration, the doorway to the study was moved from the east end, closest to the oval, to the west end, closest to the dining room. At that time, the oval’s door was switched from the hinges being on the north side of the doorway, to the hinges on the south side. This enabled easier access to the restroom, which had a doorway which the oval’s door blocked when open. Also during the Johnson Admin., a small closet was created in the dining room out of the resessed space between the fireplace and the doorway. This closet allegedly housed some equipment used in connection with tape recordings of President Johnson’s conversations. Compare the photos captioned “P Kenneth O’Donnel in 1961, looking north” and “Richard Nixon and staff watching the splash-down of Apollo 13 in 1970, looking north” on that same webpage.
Very interesting, Rod. This all makes sense, and I didn’t realize that the door had been flopped for better access. In FDR’s time, the lav was the larger space to the south, so it made sense then (I have it wrong on my historical diagrams because of a proposed change in the Truman plan that I didn’t realize was a change).
The “President’s dining room” was a much larger room back in FDR’s and HST’s time, as this photo suggests — http://whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/presidents-dining-room/presidents-secretary-1946-e.jpg Note the extended length of the wall from the fireplace mantle to the door. Back then, the room had three windows.
So, the space now called the President’s Private Study was smaller back then, making it useful as a restroom, but with one large window providing quite a view of the South Lawn.
And, at the risk of really obsessing over the Oval’s west doorway, note that at some point during the Nixon occupancy, the door was reversed again, opening inwards with the hinges on the right. Compare the 1969 photo with the 1974 photo and, to show that the door still opens that way, see http://whitehousemuseum.org/west-wing/oval-office/oval-office-2001-open-door.jpg
I would love to hear your analysis of the White House in “W”.