The C&O desk is one of only six desks ever used by a President of the United States in the Oval Office. Of all the Oval Office desks this one was used there only by George H. W. Bush. The C&O desk, created around 1920, is one of four desks built for the owners of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. It was later donated to the White House by Chesapeake and Ohio's successor, CSX Transportation.
Design and markings
The C&O desk, constructed around 1920, is a walnut reproduction of an eighteenth-century English Georgian double pedestal desk (also known as a partners desk) with drawers located on both sides of each pedestal.
The C&O desk was commissioned around 1920 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway as one of four desks to be built for the owners of the company. It remained in the company's headquarters in Ohio for many years. After a series of mergers, then newly named Chessie System merged with Seaboard Coast Line Industries on November 1, 1980, to form the new CSX Corporation.
In the years prior to this merger, CSX donated the C&O desk to the White House and it was placed in the Oval Office Study. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan all used the desk there. On May 2, 1985 the desk was moved, and then Vice President George H. W. Bush started using the desk as his main work space in the White House. When Marlin Fitzwater, White House Press Secretary under both presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, was asked about Bush's use of the C&O desk, he stated that "...he got used to it, found it comfortable, [and] thought it was attractive." After his presidential inauguration on January 20, 1989 the C&O desk was used in the residential portion of the White House, and on June 13, 1989 it was moved into the newly decorated Oval Office. The Resolute desk, the Oval Office desk removed for the C&O, was placed briefly in the White House storage room, but found a final resting place for the Bush White House in the Treaty Room which Bush used as an ancillary office.
Below is a table with the location of the desk from its construction to present day and each tenant of the desk.
|1920 - May 1975||C&O Railway owners|| Chesapeake and Ohio Railway |
|May 1975-January 20, 1977||Gerald Ford|| Oval Office Study |
|January 20, 1977 - January 20, 1981||Jimmy Carter|
|January 20, 1981 - May 2, 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|1987 - January 20, 1989||George H.W. Bush|| Vice president's Office |
|January 20, 1989 - June 13, 1989||White House Residence|
|June 13, 1989 - ~January 20, 1993|| Oval Office |
A replica of the C&O desk is located in the George Bush Presidential Library, in College Station, Texas, as a part of a full-scale replica of the Oval Office furnished as it was during Bush's presidency. The replica desk was created by Eli Wilner & Company, New York.
- Parmet, Herbert S. George Bush: the life of a Lone Star Yankee. p.365. Transaction Publishers, 2001. Accessed December 24, 2011.
- Hess, Stephen, What Now? The Oval Office. Brookings Institution. January 08, 2009. Accessed December 22, 2011
- NATION : Bush Replaces Kennedy's Desk. Los Angeles Times. June 16, 1989. Accessed December 22, 2011.
- Interactive timeline. CSX. Accessed December 22, 2011.
- Bush Koch, Doro. My father, my president: a personal account of the life of George H.W. Bush. Hachette Digital, Inc., Oct 6, 2006. Accessed December 24, 2011.
- List of Areas. George Bush Presidential Library. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Media related to C&O desk at Wikimedia Commons