A Setting for Diplomacy
The James Madison State Dining Room, named for the nation’s fourth president, was designed by the architect Walter M. Macomber in 1983 for luncheons and other official functions when the number of guests is small. For informal discussions, there is a comfortable seating area in front of a bay framed by Doric columns. Through the long windows guests enjoy sweeping views of the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. Furnishings in the room relate to the first decades of the 19th century, when Madison served as Thomas Jefferson’s secretary of state and then as president.
A focal point of the room is a sculptural relief of Madison carved in marble by the celebrated sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi. This profile bust was presented to Dolley Madison at the time of her wedding and was cherished by her until her death in 1849. She considered it the truest likeness ever created of her husband, and today it is a national treasure. Beneath the profile stands a Federal mahogany sideboard from the USS Constitution. George Washington named the frigate in 1797 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Constitution, but it was affectionately called “Old Ironsides” for its success in defeating British warships during the War of 1812. Side chairs made in Salem, Massachusetts, line the walls of the room. Their carved chair backs feature the eagle that is the symbol of the United States, the centerpiece of the nation’s Great Seal.
- Walter Macomber’s vision for the Doric feature of this room from drawing to full architectural realization.
- The view facing the National Mall from the James Madison State Dining Room prior to the room’s renovation.
- An early image of the historic collection held in the James Madison Room before the State Room was renovated into a period-style space.