The South Wing of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was the first wing to be completed. The Department of State occupied this building from 1875 until 1947.
The EOP Library balconies, 1984. Walter Smalling, Jr.
The State Department Library was completed in 1876. The architect was
Alfred B. Mullett and William McPherson of Boston was the decorator. The
room was used as the State Department's library until 1949 when the State
Department finally moved the library from the building. The Library was
a popular tour stop in the late 19th century. Washington guide books of
the late 1800s have accounts of the elegance and beauty of the gold and
pearl-colored room. In addition to 60,000 volumes, the library contained
all the treaties signed between the U.S. and other countries. The
of Independence, the
Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Presidential
Seal, Washington's sword, and Franklin's crabtree walking stick were other items on display.
The room continued to serve as a small library from 1949-1974. The Ford Administration covered the shelves with wallboard and used the repainted room for meetings and receptions. In 1979, the room was restored for use as the library for the Executive Office of the President. In 1983, the rooms interior was repainted using the historic paint analysis by the National Park Service that revealed the original colors. The coved ceiling is the only original painted ceiling found in the building never painted over, and was cleaned to restore its beauty. The room is of cast iron and plaster construction; the floor is the original English Minton tile. The book shelves are cast iron and were originally covered in sheepskin. The roof restoration project undertaken in the early 1990s allowed for natural light to enter the room from the skylight for the first time since 1941.
Corner detail of the Library ceiling, 1984. Walter Smalling, Jr.
Today the room functions in its historic context - as a library. Today the library supports the Executive Office of the President agencies that are located within the White House Complex.
Return to the EEOB Tour