The Secretary's Conference and Diplomatic Reception Rooms have been created through the generous support of the Committee for the Preservation of the Treasury Building. The committee, recognizing the need of the Secretary of the Treasury for conference and reception rooms, assumed the leadership in providing for historically accurate rooms to reflect the dignity of the Treasury Department, as well as the significant history and collections of the landmark Main Treasury Building.
Located adjacent to the Secretary of the Treasury's office, the rooms were created to provide space for the Secretary's meetings and receptions in a style harmonious with the other nineteenth century historic interiors of the building. The two rooms have been recreated as typical nineteenth century public rooms in the post-Civil War Treasury Building. Conceived with the stated purpose of daily use, the design of the conference and reception rooms incorporates twentieth century functional requirements with the style of nineteenth century interiors. With access to the rooms through a foyer, the plan of the rooms disposes a conference room and a reception room on either side of a modern kitchen.
The style of the interiors is American Renaissance Revival of the late 1860's to 1880's, complementary to the period of the Treasury collection of office furniture. Throughout the conference and reception rooms, all of the decorative details and materials have been selected and assembled to impart an accurate sense of an interior in a major public building in the nineteenth century. The walls and ceilings of both rooms duplicate the color and decorative painting schemes known to have existed in this wing of the building. The rooms are lit by Renaissance Revival gas chandeliers and antique wall sconces of white metal and brass. All five chandeliers, including the one in the foyer, were purchased with funds generously provided by the Treasury Historical Association. The furniture in the rooms is a combination of Treasury collection pieces augmented by recent acquisitions. Typical of the Department's existing collection are the mahogany side chairs with the US insignia in the configuration of the sign for the dollar on the chair back in the conference and reception rooms. The mahogany and brown leather conference chairs are replicas of a Treasury collection chair, and the twenty-four foot long conference table which comfortably seats twenty is also from the Department's collection. Among recent acquisitions are the two Renaissance revival style parlor suites -- one decorated with an eagle from the 1870's, and the other with gilded shields and metal plaques from the 1860's. The furniture is upholstered in typical mid-nineteenth century style striped fabric.
In each room the elaborate nineteenth century window drapery of lace, side curtains and trimmings hangs from cornices which were reproduced from designs of those originally made for the Secretary of the Treasury's office in 1864 and used in other high ranking officials offices through the 1880's. The plaster cornices painted to resemble walnut, have the central motif of the Treasury Department seal. The floors are covered by wool Wilton and Brussels carpets woven on looms as in the nineteenth century, in strips 27" wide, and then sewn together. The carpet patterns are based upon nineteenth century designs and colors.
Most of the works of art in the rooms are from the Treasury art collection. In the conference room the portrait of George Washington is attributed to Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) and the portrait of the 25th Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, is attributed to Thomas Sully (1783-1872). The framed series of vignettes, currency, bonds and tax stamps, is an example of the imaginative and unusual work of Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The allegorical female marble bust of "America", with her necklace inscribed with the names of presidents of the United States, was made in Italy for the American art market in the 1870's, perhaps for the Centennial of 1876 in Philadelphia.
The Secretary's Conference and Reception Rooms with their nineteenth century American furniture and decorative details acknowledge the Treasury Department's illustrious past, while providing a historic setting for today's Treasury business.
We appreciate the help of the Office of the Curator in providing this information.