The Oval Office
The Oval Office is the president's formal workspace, where he confers with
heads of state, diplomats, his staff, and other dignitaries; where he
often addresses the American public and the world on television or radio;
and where he deals with the issues of the day.
The first Oval Office was built in 1909 in the center of the south side of
the West Wing; in 1934 it was moved to its current location on the
southeast corner, overlooking the Rose Garden. Each president has
decorated the Oval Office to suit his tastes. Among the features that
remain constant are the white marble mantel from the original 1909 Oval
Office, the presidential seal in the ceiling, and the two flags behind the
president's desk--the U.S. flag and the President's flag.
President George W. Bush has selected several paintings depicting Texas
scenes by Texas artists for his office. Many are on loan from museums in
San Antonio and El Paso.
President Bush has chosen to use the Resolute desk, which was made from
the timbers of H.M.S. Resolute, an abandoned British ship discovered by an
American vessel and returned to the Queen of England as a token of
friendship and goodwill. When the ship was retired, Queen Victoria
commissioned the desk and presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes in
The desk has twice been modified from the original 1880 version. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the kneehole be fitted with a panel
carved with the Presidential coat-of-arms, but he did not live to see it
installed in 1945. President Ronald Reagan requested it be raised on a 2"
base to accommodate his 6'2" frame.
Every president since Hayes, except Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford,
has used the Resolute desk. The desk was made famous by a photograph of
President John F. Kennedy at work while his son, John Jr., peeked out from
behind the kneehole panel.
President Bush is the 43rd President of the United States and the 17th
President to occupy the Oval Office.