Family Dining Room

about 2012, looking north

Intimate Formal Dining

The first family often hosts small formal dinners in this room, a space about 28 feet by 25 feet. Established by the Madisons, the first floor's smaller dining room was strictly for family meals, and was generally thought of as the "breakfast room" until 1961, when Jackie Kennedy created a dining room upstairs. Some families chose not to use the Family Dining Room even before that. The Jackson clan ate on small tables in their rooms as if in a hotel, and the Eisenhowers dined on TV trays in the West Sitting Hall, simultaneously watching two "porthole" television sets.

The room often gets use as a staging area for state dinners and an "overflow" room for members of the president's staff who get bumped from the State Dining Room by last-minute guests. During the Johnson administration, the president's chief assistant on domestic issues (Joe Califano) accidentally spilled a glass of wine on the chief of protocol (James Symington) shortly before they needed to escort foreign dignitaries to the rest of the evening's events. Chief Usher JB West literally gave Symington the shirt off his back!

In the northeast corner is a door that is blocked by a cabinet. On the other side, the space formed the deep doorway (the wall is a brick wall more than 2 feet thick) provides a niche for an extra desk in the Ushers' Room.


More Images

2016, looking northwest (Architectural Digest)

2017, looking west (Architectural Digest)

The Obamas in 2010, looking northeast (White House- Pete Souza)

The Obamas in 2009, looking northeast (White House- Pete Souza)

Laura Bush showing the new china and rug in 2009, looking northwest (Time - Brooks Kraft)

Laura Bush showing the new china and rug in 2009, looking southwest (White House)

Preparing the Family Dining Room in 2006, looking northwest (Time - Brooks Kraft)

The Family Dining Room in 2006; (Karzai of Afghanistan, Dick Cheney,
GW Bush, Condi Rice, Musharraf of Pakistan) (White House - Eric Draper)

The Family Dining Room in 2001; (with Aznar of Spain) (US Consulate)


Historical photos of the Family Dining Room