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On December 10, 1938, a grand piano was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the White House by Theodore Steinway. The piano replaced another Steinway at the White House, a gilded and painted grand piano which had been given in 1903 (now on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution).

Seeking to create a unique and distinguished “State Piano,” Eric Gugler, a New York architect, friend of the Roosevelts, and White House consultant in the 1930s, chose a square form with simpler lines than the routine double-curve form. The case was made of fine Honduran mahogany. Although it measures seven inches longer than the standard nine-foot Steinway grand, it has identical musical works.