Vermeil Room

The Vermeil Room in 2010 (White House - Chuck Kenndy)

The Goldware Collection

The Vermeil Room (pronounced vur-MAY), sometimes called the "Gold Room," serves as a display room and, for formal occasions, as a ladies sitting room. The soft yellow of the paneled walls complements the collection of vermeil, or gold-plated silver, bequeathed to the White House in 1956 by Mrs. Margaret Thompson Biddle.

The vermeil collection contains pieces from different services and includes the work of English Regency silversmith Paul Storr (1771-1844), the French Empire silversmith Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot (1763-1850), and Philip Rundell of London, who crafted the vermeil wine cooler at the right. The cooler has as its handles classical figures reaching for grapes from an arbor.

This room is about 27 1/2 feet by 22 1/2 feet. The green silk draperies are of early 19th-century design. The carpet is a Turkish Hereke of about 1860, chosen for its pale green background and gold silk highlights. In the center of the room stands a circular mahogany table made in the Empire revival style later in the 19th century. Its tilt top is veneered in 12 wedge-shaped sections, each inlaid with a brass star. Hanging above it is a cut-glass chandelier with ten arms, which was made in England about 1785.


Aaron Shikler's portrait of Nancy Reagan (White House)

Against the south wall is a New York sofa circa 1815 attributed to the workshop of Duncan Phyfe. It has scrolled ends and a reeded frame. On either side stand Boston work tables made in the early 1800's and thought to be the work of either John or Thomas Seymour. Although not a pair, each has two drawers and a sewing-bag slide.

Placed along the north wall is a classical mahogany pier table with a marble top and gilded bronze caryatid heads and feet on reeded supports. It was made about 1805 in New York and is one of two tables in the room that bear the label of New York cabinetmaker Charles-Honore Lannuier.

Before the room was converted house the goldware, this room was a ladies' parlor for guests assembling (from the East Wing entrance) before a social event. Mrs. Hoover converted this room from the "Social Bureau," where the White House social events were coordinated, into the "Appointment Room," which served somewhat the older purpose of a place where the Hoovers' social appointments could pause before going up to meet with the first lady and/or the president. Earlier still, the room once housed a billiards table.

The Room of First Ladies

Portraits of several first ladies are exhibited in the Vermeil Room. Douglas Chandor caught the vivaciousness and changing moods in his multiple-image portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, painted in his studio in New York City in 1949. Inscribed by her in the upper right corner: "A trial made pleasant by the painter. Eleanor Roosevelt." Claudia (Lady Bird) Johnson by Elizabeth Shoumatoff. Mrs. Johnson chose the Jefferson Memorial, one of her favorite views, as the background for the picture, which was painted in the White House. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Aaron Shikler in 1970; her New York apartment provided its background. Aaron Shikler also painted Nancy Reagan's portrait, which graces the east wall of the room. Patricia Ryan Nixon by Henriette Wyeth hangs on the north wall, as does Lou Henry Hoover's portrait, by Richard Brown.


More Images

The Vermeil Room in 2008, looking southwest (Architectural Digest)

The Vermeil Room in 2008, looking west (C-SPAN)

The Vermeil Room in 2008, looking northeast (C-SPAN)

The Vermeil Room in 2007 (Sara E Jensen)

The Vermeil Room in 2006 at Christmastime, looking south (cdhopk)

The Vermeil Room in 2006 (Amber Kurusz)

The Vermeil Room in 2005, looking south (Annie & Capo)

The Vermeil Room, circa 2004

The Vermeil Room at Christmastime in 2004 (Kristin J. Forbes)

The Vermeil Room, 2001, looking south (Wasylik)

The Vermeil Room, circa 1990, looking southwest (White House)

The Vermeil Room, circa 1981, looking southwest (White House Historical Association)

The Vermeil Room 1964 (Kennedy Library)

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

Diagram of the Vermeil Room as planned by the Kennedys in 1962 (National Geographic - Robert W Nicholson)

The Vermeil Room in May, 1962, looking south (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)

The Vermeil Room in 1960, looking southeast (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)

The Vermeil Room in 1960, looking northeast (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)

The Vermeil Room in 1960, looking west (National Geographic - Thomas Nebbia)

The Vermeil Room in 1960, looking northwest (National Geographic - Thomas Nebbia)

The "Social Room" during the Truman reconstruction in 1950, looking northwest (Truman Library - Abbie Rowe)

The "Social Room" during the Truman reconstruction in 1949, looking southwest (Truman Library - Abbie Rowe)

The "Social Room" in 1948, looking west (Truman Library [mislabeled as "Library"] - Abbie Rowe)


Ladies' Lavatory

The Vermeil Room allows access to a ladies' lounge and lavatory. When it was first added, it was a men's lavatory, and the men's room off the Library was a ladies' room.


The Ladies' Lounge in 2007 (Sarah E Jensen)

A visitor in the Ladies' Lavatory in 2005 (Lique)

Visitors in the Ladies' Lavatory in 2004 (fritzfoster)

The Ladies' Lounge and Lavatory in 1992 (HABS)