The Resolute Oval Office Desk is not exactly Mid-Century Modern but it has its own, old school, Master of The Universe appeal. The original, a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, was built from oak timbers salvaged from an Arctic discovery vessel the U.S. returned to Britain as a sign of good will. When the Resolute was scrapped, Victoria commissioned the desk.
The ‘secret door’ dates to an earlier adjustment. President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the kneehole be fitted with a modesty panel carved with the presidential seal to conceal his leg braces. (He often placed a waste basket in front of his desks). FDR did not live to see it installed, but Truman liked the eagle motif and had the secret door installed.
For JFK Jr., it opened to a secret ‘playhouse’ in his dad’s office. And we shudder to think who was under it during Clinton’s reign.
Feeling a primal urge to sit at a Presidential Partner’s desk without the pesky business of running for office or running the country? A hand-carved 7 ft. replica in Mahogany with Hand-Tooled Leather Top is available for order online from The White House Gift Shop, $12,500 including shipping. (It was yesterday’s deal of the day at $6,250). If a less prestigious provenance other than the WH Gift Shop is ok with you, Resolutes are available elsewhere starting at $4,800.
It seems that Presidents have lousy taste in desk chairs. Here’s Obama trying out a few. LRNYC prefers this leather version at $1285 to the functional, clunky ones past and the present POTUS have chosen.