Constructed in 1880 from oak timbers salvaged from the HMS Resolute, the Resolute desk (also known as Hayes desk) stands in the Oval Office of the White House and has been used by several presidents, including the five most recent ones.
Due to its prominence, numerous detailed replicas of this desk has been constructed for private offices or for museum displays. More or less accurate replicas can also be seen in movies, TV-shows and similar.
Anyone who wish to commission a high-end replica of the Resolute desk for their own office will be required to pay dearly, since it will need to be hand-crafted by a highly skilled woodworker using old oak timber.
The commercial production of presidential furniture replicas is a small but growing industry. Back in 2009, David Newton of Victorian Replicas was featured in an article in Woodshop News where he mentioned having sold over 50 replicas of the Resolute desk. Another example of a U.S. company known for making presidential furniture replicas is New York First Co.
In 2020, a full-scale replica of the Resolute desk was included at the Bonhams American Presidential Experience Auction. It was not sold separately; it was a part of a facsimile of the Oval Office. The expected price for the whole office was quoted to be $40,000 – $60,000.
For those looking to buy only the desk, replicas used to be offered by SkyMall for a more affordable $5,499. (SkyMall has since filed for bankruptcy.) This was considerably less than the $6,999 charged by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library´s online store.
Presidential museum replicas
The first known replica of the Resolute desk was commissioned in 1978 for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts, where it is still on display today. The woodworker Robert C. Whitley spent three days measuring and photographing the original Resolute desk in the Oval Office to get everything right, even the smallest details. Creating the replica then took almost a full year.
Since then, replicas of the Resolute desk has been created for five other presidential libraries:
- The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio
- The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia
- The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California
- The Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas
- The George W. Bush Presidential Center in University Park, Texas
Replicas for private offices
One notable example of a privately-owned replica is the one purchased by Greg and Katie Knowles for their 9,000-square-foot home in Wappingers Falls, New York. Within this home, they created a simile of the Oval Office, filled with various presidential memorabilia.
The political commentator Frank Luntz fashioned an Oval Office in his home in Brentwood, California, including a replica of the Resolute desk. He uses his ”Oval Office” for fundraisers and interviews with politicians.
Ron Wade, a collector of presidential memorabilia, had a Resolute desk replica made for his own Oval Office in Longview, Texas. Part of his driveway had to be sacrificed to make room for the office.
The Norton Manor in Potomac, Maryland also houses a fine replica of the Resolute desk. This is the home of Frank Islam, founder of the QSS Group. Norton Manor is a 47,000 square-foot faux-Old European estate built during the first half of the 2010s.
Replicas in Hollywood
Several permanent or at least long-term Oval Office sets has been created in Hollywood for the needs of the movie industry. Here are a two examples:
– The Oval Office set built in 1993 for the movie ”Dave” has since been used for over two dozen movies, including ”The Pelican Brief” (1993), “Clear and Present Danger” (1994), and “Absolute Power” (1997).
– The Castle Rock Oval Office set built in 1995 can be seen in the movies ”The American President” (1995), ”Nixon” (1995), and ”Independence Day” (1996).
The replica made for the TV-series ”The West Wing” is currently found in the Warner Bros. Prop House and is displayed to visitors during studio tours.
The American Presidential Experience
Five Oval Office sets, each with its own replica of the Resolute desk, has been created for The American Presidential Experience – a multi-location exhibition devoted to the history of U.S. Presidents. In addition to being displayed, these Oval Offices are also rented out to advertising companies, TV-shows, etcetera and can be seen on several book covers.
HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails
A replica of the Resolute desk could be seen in Kenneth Goldsmith’s exhibition ”HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails” at the 58th Venice Biennale. Hillary Clinton sat at the desk for almost an hour, leafing through over 60,000 of her emails that had been printed out.
Timeline of the original Resolute desk in the United States
|Rutherford B. Hayes||Green Room, White House||1880|
|Rutherford B. Hayes||President’s Office, White House||1880–1902|
|James A. Garfield|
|Chester A. Arthur|
|Theodore Roosevelt||President’s Study, White House||1902–1933|
|William Howard Taft|
|Warren G. Harding|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||Oval Study, White House||1933–1948|
|Harry S. Truman|
|During the Truman Renovation of the White House, the Resolute desk was stored with the B. Altman and Company in New York City.||1948–1952|
|Harry S. Truman||Broadcast Room (now Office of the Curator), White House||1952–1961|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|John F. Kennedy||Oval Office, White House||1961–1963|
|John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Traveling Exhibition||1964–1965|
|Smithsonian Institution display||1966–1975|
|“We the People” exhibition at the National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution||1975–1977|
|Jimmy Carter||Oval Office, White House||1977–1989|
|George H. W. Bush|
|George H. W. Bush||President’s Residence Office (Treaty Room), White House||1989–1993|
|Bill Clinton||Oval Office, White House||1993–present|
|George W. Bush|