The “Company Dining-Room:” A Brief History of the State Dining Room in the White House

A Brief History of the State Dining Room in the White House

The State Dining Room, which now seats as many as 140 guests, was originally much smaller and served at various times as a drawing room, office, and Cabinet Room. Not until the Andrew Jackson administration was it called the “State Dining Room,” although previous presidents had used it for formal dinners. In early times, this room was called simply the “company dining-room” to distinguish it from the Family Dining Room across the hall.

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Garden to Table: White House Vegetable Gardens of the Past

Garden to Table: White House Vegetable Gardens of the Past

The idea for a White House vegetable garden began with President John Adams, the first resident of the White House, and was later brought to life by successive presidents. The garden has gone through many transitions over the years and currently provides produce for the president’s personal table and State dinners.

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The Acquisition of Presidential Portraits for the White House

The Acquisition of Presidential Portraits for the White House

Well into the twentieth century, the commissioning and acquisition of portraits of presi­dents for the White House was a haphazard affair that was largely dependent on gifts from families and friends of a president. It was not until the founding of the White House Historical Association in 1961 and its commitment to fund the acquisition of portraits of both presidents and first la­dies for the White House that life portraits of the presidents were consistently commissioned for the collection. Today, presidents and first ladies are assured that their portraits will be added, after their approval of the art, into the White House collection in a timely manner. The Association and generous private donors have also made possible the acquisition of life portraits of earlier presidents to complete the presidential collection or to replace previous copies or replicas.

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Visit the blog regularly to learn about the history of the White House and the President’s Neighborhood as well as the activities and programs at the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History at Decatur House, a research and educational institute founded in 2010 and housed at a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.

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