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The Yellow Room is one of the few rooms in the Mansion to be mentioned by name in multiple contexts during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

  • George Washington made the first recorded reference to “the Yellow Room” in a 1786 diary entry.
  • William Pearce, farm manager, included the “Yellow Room” in a 1796 memo to Washington. 
  • Martha Washington referred to “the chamber called the Yellow Room” when bequeathing several of its contents to Elizabeth (Eliza) Parke Custis Law
  • The appraisers of the 1802 inventory recorded one second-floor space as the “Yellow Room up Stairs.”
  • Confirmation for the location of the Yellow Room comes from the 1800 inventory: the contents of the “the third room” on the second floor match those described in the 1802 inventory of the “Yellow Room up Stairs.”
  • The space continued to be called the Yellow Room well into the 19th century: Bushrod Washington’s housekeeping inventories, dating as late as 1827, repeatedly refer to the bed chamber in this location as the Yellow Room.

The name indicates that yellow defined the room’s textiles and wall finishes.

In the 18th century, rooms were typically named after the color of their textiles, and the wall finishes were chosen to complement these. At the end of the 18th century, yellow enjoyed a renewed surge in popularity in fashionable elite homes.