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The State Dining Room, which now seats as many as 140 guests, was originally much smaller and served at various times as a drawing room, office, and Cabinet Room. Today's State Dining Room incorporates the space that President Thomas Jefferson used as a private office. Tall and generously proportioned, the room had fireplaces on the east and west and was flooded with daylight through tall south and west windows. When President James Madison and First Lady Dolley Madison took up residence in 1809, the room became a dining area. They displayed Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, now in the East Room, on its walls. Mrs. Madison ordered the rescue of the painting before the British arrived to burn the house in 1814.

State Dining Room, 1874.

National Archives and Records Administration

As the nation grew, so did the invitation list to official functions at the White House. The Cross Hall was used for large dinners even though drafts from the front door made it chilly. Seating for dinners was a matter of studied concern. Guests and their partners marched in unison with music to the table. Places were arranged by a seating chart reflecting diplomatic rank. The president always was served first, and no one could rise to leave the table before him.

President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy Hayes abstained from alcohol and often served non-alcoholic beverages instead of liquor at White House dinners and receptions. By the close of the Rutherford B. Hayes administration in 1881, teas had become a central part of White House entertaining and First Lady Lucy Hayes had acquired the nickname "Lemonade Lucy."

President Chester Arthur commissioned designer Louis Comfort Tiffany to redecorate the State Dining Room in 1882. By far the greatest cost was Tiffany's artistic painting. The walls were painted in many shades and textures of yellow and highlighted in silver.

State Dining Room, c. 1890.

Library of Congress

During the 1902 renovation, President Theodore Roosevelt greatly enlarged the State Dining Room. He mounted a large moose head above the fireplace and placed other game trophies on the natural oak panels. Roosevelt ordered the carvings on the main stone mantel to be changed from lions to North American Bison heads. The current woodwork, eagle side pedestal tables, and lighting fixtures remain from the 1902 renovation.

State Dining Room during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, 1902.

Library of Congress

In the final year of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered John Adams' famous blessing carved on the stone fireplace of the State Dining Room where it can be seen today. On November 2, 1800, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.

President John Adams's blessing was carved into the State Dining Room mantel in 1945.

White House Collection/White House Historical Association

President Franklin D. Roosevelt hung George P. A. Healy's 1869 portrait of Abraham Lincoln, donated to the White House in 1939, above the mantel where it remains today.After the Truman renovation, the rich oak-paneled walls were painted a light celadon green to hide damage marks and a new dark green marble mantel was installed.

In 1962, the Kennedys had a replica of the 1902 mantel, complete with bison heads and the Adams quote, installed in the State Dining Room and painted the walls ivory white. Today, the State Dining Room serves as a banquet hall and ceremonial chamber for all manner of official events. It is the center of White House hospitality.

The State Dining Room, 2016.

White House Historical Association