China Room

The China Room in 2006 (Ejconkey)

The China Collection

Washington's china—
see the collection


Once the quarters of a fireman hired by Martin Van Buren to stoke the massive furnace in today's Diplomatic Reception Room, McKim made it a cloakroom in 1902. The "Presidential Collection Room" was designated by Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in 1917 to display the growing collection of White House china. Up to that time, presidential china was regularly sold at auction to help fund the purchase of new china.

Even so, almost every past president is represented in the China Room either by state or family china or glassware. The collection is arranged chronologically, beginning to the right of the fireplace.


The portrait of Grace Coolidge

This room is about 27 1/2 feet by 20 1/2 feet. It was was redecorated in 1970, retaining the traditional red color scheme determined by the portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge—painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1924. Its red theme continues in the red velvet-lined cabinets, silk taffeta draperies and the early 20th-century Indo-Ispahan rug. The cut-glass chandelier, made about 1800, is in the English Regency style.

Flanking the portrait of Mrs. Coolidge are Chippendale sidechairs used by President George Washington in the earlier presidential residences in New York and Philadelphia. The painting above the mantel, "View on the Mississippi Fifty-Seven Miles Below St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis", was completed by Ferdinand Richardt in 1858—the year Minnesota achieved statehood.

Of this room, Mrs. Hoover wrote:

But the China Room in the Hoover era had besides its museum use a human role. In winter the President's morning ball cabinet met there for its after-game fruit and coffee and administrative gossip, before family breakfast table claimed the players.


More Images

Reagan and Clinton china on display in 2000 (Nick Valenziano)

The China Room, circa 1999

The China Room in 1992, looking southwest (HABS)

The China Room in 1992, looking northeast (HABS)

The China Room in 1992, looking northeast (HABS)

Barbara Bush helps Millie put her pawprint on a holiday greeting card in 1991 (White House)

The China Room in 1975 (White House Historical Association)

Luci Johnson in 1966, looking north (Life)

The China Room in 1964 (Kennedy Library)

The Kennedy China Room, around late 1962 (James Archer Abbot collection)

The China Room in May, 1962 (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)

The China Room in 1960 (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)

Mamie shows off the the china around 1959

Guests visit the room in 1958 (Life)

The room in the Eisenhower era, circa 1957 (Eisenhower Library)

The China Room in the Truman era, circa 1954 (White House postcard)

The China Room in 1952, before paint (Truman Library)

The China Room in 1948, before the Truman reconstruction, looking east (Truman Library)

The China Room in 1948, before the Truman reconstruction, looking southwest (Truman Library)

The China Room in 1944 (Life)

The China Room around 1930, during the Hoover era, with portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln (NARA)

The China Room around 1927

The China Room in 1918 (White House)

Men's Lavatory

The China Room provides access to a men's lavatory. When it was first added, it was a women's lavatory, and the ladies' room off the Vermeil Room was a men's room.


Men's Lavatory in 2000 (Nick Valenziano)

The men's lavatory accessible from the China Room, in 1992 (HABS)