Lincoln Bed

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:

Purchased by Mary Todd Lincoln and placed in the northwest bedroom suite, or "Prince of Wales" bedroom; no evidence or even suggestion President Lincoln ever slept in it.

Moved by Julia Grant to the small bedroom west, in the shadow of the North Portico.

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes moved the Lincoln bed into the newly designated "State Bedroom" (today's Living Room).

Moved one room east, to the Master Bedroom, and used by Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.

Moved to storage by Nellie Taft.

Moved back into the Master Bedroom, and used by Woodrow Wilson and his second wife, Edith.

Moved to the northwest suite (today's Private Dining Room) by Florence Harding, with some Lincoln memorabilia or era items.

Moved a third time into the Master Bedroom, and used by Calvin and Grace Coolidge.

Moved by the Herbert Hoovers back into the northwest suite, officially called the "Lincoln Bedroom."

Moved briefly into the small bedroom west under Franklin Roosevelt for use by his aide Louis Howe and his wife, Grace, but soon returned to the northwest suite, where it was later used by Anna Roosevelt Boettiger, her husband, John, and son Johnny.

Placed by the Trumans in the southeast suite (the "Blue Suite"), renamed the "Lincoln Bedroom," where it has remained since then.

White House furnishings overview


More Images

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 Lincoln bed in today's Living Room serving President Wilson and second wife Edith in 1917 (White House Historical Association [Library of Congress])

The Harrison "state bedroom" in today's Living Room with Lincoln bed—and its original canopy—around 1892

The "State Bedroom" with Lincoln bed and canopy in today's Living Room, circa 1875 (Truman Library - labeled "circa 1892")