The Lincoln Bedroom is located on the second floor of the White House, part of a guest suite of rooms that includes the Lincoln Sitting Room. The room is named for Abraham Lincoln and was used by him as an office. The room is best known as a guest room used by presidents to reward friends and political supporters.
The room has been furnished in a mix of Victorian styles
including Renaissance Revival, Rococo Revival, and Aesthetic Movement, since the Truman
renovation. Some of the furniture was used by the Lincoln administration but was purchased during earlier administrations, including the sofa and three matching chairs, two slipper chairs, and four of Lincoln's cabinet chairs. The central feature of the room is the Lincoln bed, a nearly 8-foot by 6-foot rosewood bed with an enormous headboard which is believed to have been purchased by Mary Todd Lincoln
during her extensive redecorating efforts. The bed was probably never used by President Lincoln, although several later presidents have used it. An ornamental crown-shaped canopy hood was recently reconstructed to replace the lost original.
A holograph copy of the Gettysburg Address is displayed on the desk. This copy is the only one of five that is signed, dated, and titled by Lincoln.
Before the construction of the West Wing
in 1902, this room was used as either an office or a meeting room for the president's Cabinet
. When the president's staff was moved to the new West Wing, this room became a bedroom suite called the "Blue Bedroom." When the White House was gutted and rebuilt during the Truman administration, this room was rebuilt and dedicated to Abraham Lincoln.
The room has been redecorated several times in the past half century, most notably by Jackie Kennedy, but always including furnishings from the Victorian period.
When Abraham Lincoln was president, it was used as his personal office and Cabinet room (it was used in this manner by all presidents between 1830 and 1902). During the Lincoln presidency, the walls were covered with Civil War maps. It had dark green wallpaper, and the carpeting was also dark green. Newspapers were stacked on the desk and tables along with large amounts of mail and requests from office seekers. Two large wicker wastebaskets were filled with debris.
President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in this room on January 1, 1863.
Assessment during the Clinton administration
During the Clinton
administration the Committee for the Preservation of the White House
and then Curator of the White House
Betty Monkman began initial assessment for the refurbishment of the room. While most of the furniture and artwork in the room was found to be of similar related periods, and much was associated with the presidency of Lincoln, the room's carpeting, mantel and anemic painted walls were not of the period. Initial decisions were made to replace the existing Neoclassical mantel with a mid-19th century style mantel design, and to use more pattern as would have been used in Lincoln's day for the wallpaper and carpet. Two etchings and a drawing consistently showed a diamond patterned wallpaper and a Renaissance Revival style gas chandelier. A small oil painting showed a color representation of the same diamond patterned wall paper in dark green, mustard and teal.
Redecoration during the George W. Bush administration
During the administration of George W. Bush
the new curator, William Allman along with new Bush appointees to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, including Bush family decorator Ken Blasingame, continued with the process. A boldly patterned Renaissance Revival patterned carpet was created for the room. The wallpaper became a compromise, using the diamond pattern found in the historic engravings and painting, but eschewing the deep Victorian color palette found in the oil painting, for a much lighter off-white color favored by the Bush family in many of the White House rooms they refurbished.
The crown-shaped canopy hood which originally held the canopy of the Lincoln bed was recreated, and the lace and silk and wool velvet bed drapes were accurately recreated, including hand-made fringe and tassels based upon 19th century photographs. New gilded window valances in the Rococo Revival style, perhaps intended to echo the bed canopy crown were created in place of those shown in engravings, drawings and a painting made during Lincoln's presidency.
Lincoln Sitting Room