22' 9" wide x 30' 6" long x 16' 6" high
Washington called this room—the last addition to the Mansion and the grandest space in the house—his “New Room.” With its two-story-high ceiling, detailed architectural ornament, and stylish furnishings, the New Room was intended to emphasize unpretentious beauty and fine craftsmanship, qualities he believed communicated the new nation’s values. Washington summed up his ambitious goals for the room in a letter written while he was off fighting the Revolutionary War: “I would have the whole executed in a masterly manner.”
Opting for vivid paint and wallpaper through much of the house, Washington made choices that expressed the tastes of his era, when the use of bold colors was a sign of wealth. The stunning green of the wallpaper in this room was one of his favorites. The furnishings include various original Washington pieces as well as period pieces similar to those the Washingtons would have owned. Washington ordered the Federal-style sideboard (on the river side of the room) and several of the side chairs from Philadelphia cabinetmaker John Aitken near the end of his presidency.
Like the grand “salons” of fashionable 18th-century English manor homes, this room was meant to serve several functions. As a receiving area for visitors, its high ceiling, large volume, and symmetrical decoration made the space truly impressive as the room alone was larger than most houses in colonial Virginia.
As well as its scale, the New Room’s large north-facing window made it an ideal picture-gallery. Washington hung 21 works of art in the room; the six large landscape paintings currently on display are the original canvases that Washington acquired.
Finally, the room was used occasionally for dining, likely for guests of high rank or large parties that could not be accommodated in the smaller dining room.
The New Room’s high ceilings and two exterior doors also provided much-needed cross-ventilation when the Washingtons entertained during the warm summer months. Learn More