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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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President Hoover's Executive Office Suite

Furniture designed and built in Grand Rapids now graces the executive office of President Herbert Hoover. There are 17 pieces in the suite, and they are the gift of the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturers Association.

Care has been exercised to make the finished product American in woods, workmanship and atmosphere. The simplicity of Colonial New England furniture, the refinement of the Queen Anne period influence, and the coupling of simplicity with strength have been the predominating features in creating this suite.

The furniture centers about the beautiful desk, which is tradition in design and is distinctly American in its atmosphere. All woods in the President’s desk are American, and the maple burl veneer on the top, front, back and sides is Michigan-grown. The old block front type of design, which is so widely connected with furniture of New England and which in turn was influenced by the work of Colonial England and particularly the designers of the Queen Anne period, has been worked out in t his desk. The finish is in a rich color resembling French Walnut in hue.

It is this desk on which President Hoover will sign bills passed by Congress, all-important state documents and his personal correspondence. The proportions are somewhat large: the desk is 82 inches long and 44 inches deep. There are three drawers on each side and a center drawer.

Aside from the desk there are 16 pieces in the suite, as follows: a davenport, club chair, two large and one smaller wing chairs, two tables, swivel desk chair, two armchairs, two bookcases, a small table and three smoking stands of two sizes.

Preliminary sketches of all the pieces were submitted to President and Mrs. Hoover, who approved them and also selected the attractive upholstering materials that adorn the davenport and chairs.

The desk was designed by J. Stuart Clingman and made in the Royal plant of the Robert W. Irwin Company, as were most of the smaller pieces. The davenport and club chair are the work of the Mueller Furniture Company, and the bookcases of Grand Rapids Furniture Company manufacture. The manufacturers co-operated in keeping the designs harmonious and the finishes on all pieces uniform.

Arrangements at Washington were handled for the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturers Association by the Macey Company.

The desk bears an engraved plate with the words: “This desk presented to the President of the United States by the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturers Association. It is made entirely of American woods. All exterior parts are Michigan Maple. A.D. 1930.”

The oval room in which the furniture will stand is not a replica of the old executive offices, which were burned in a fire some months ago. Those offices were Georgian in style. The new room is of colonial style with paneled walls, the wood being butternut.

From the Grand Rapids Spectator, June 28, 1930.

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