The Lincoln bed in the Lincoln Bedroom in 2005
Mrs. Lincoln's Guest Bed
The Lincoln bed is a rosewood bed nearly 8 feet long and 6 feet wide, with an enormous headboard and large footboard decorated with carved grapes, grapevines, and birds. It was purchased by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln during her extensive redecorating efforts around 1861. It was originally put in the Prince of Wales Guest Room (today's Private Dining Room). Young Willie Lincoln died in the White House at age 11 in the bed in the Prince of Wales Guest Room at about 5:00 P.M. on February 20, 1862.
The bed was probably never used by President Lincoln, although several later presidents have used it. The original mattress was made of horsehair. Barbara Bush replaced the mattress, but guests still report that it is lumpy. One occupant, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, says it is difficult to clamber into. "You have to step up to get in, and it's not terribly comfortable."
Adapted from America's First Families: Chapter 3, A Home Within a Symbol:
The Lincoln Bedroom, circa 1999 (White House Historical Association)
The Lincoln Bedroom in 1963, after renovation (Kennedy Library)
The Lincoln Bedroom in 1952, after the Truman reconstruction, looking southeast (Truman Library)
The Lincoln Bedroom in 1947, before the Truman reconstruction (Truman Library)
The Lincoln bed in the Coolidge Master Bedroom, circa 1925
The Harrison "state bedroom" in today's Living Room with Lincoln bed—and its original canopy—around 1892