While attending last week’s ceremony at New York City’s City Hall for the 35th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design, we were ushered into the Governor’s Room for a reception following the announcements by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. The room was restored in the early 1980s and again in 2001-2002 after significant decline and alteration, the French furniture restorer Christophe Pourny (based in Brooklyn) was asked to care for the Federal-period furniture in the room. One of the prized pieces is a desk from George Washington, who used this very piece of furniture when it was located in Federal Hall, the first capitol building for the United States and where Washington was inaugurated as President.
Federal Hall was demolished in 1812, and according to a historian at City Hall at the event, the desk somehow ended up at the almshouse in Bellevue, which “horrified” City Council who promptly moved to the Governor’s Room in 1844.
Atop the table is imprinted the words “George Washington’s Table 1789,” though the top was covered for last week’s event. As recounted in this article, the desk has been widely copied as a desirable piece of furniture for the country’s elite.
The NYCDesign website states that the Governor’s Room has always been used as both a reception room and a museum since its completion in 1815-16, and notable guests in this room have included the Marquis de Lafayette, President Andrew Jackson and President James Monroe. Lincoln visited twice, once while alive as President-elect in 1861 and once while he lay in state for his funeral procession in New York City.
The 2002 restoration of the Governor’s Room introduced climate control for improved preservation of the artifacts inside and the new “French green” paint color, based on the historic color scheme found at Mount Vernon and other buildings of the same time period.
Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of City Hall.