Diplomatic Reception Rooms

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The Edward Vason Jones Memorial HallThe Passageway
The Entrance Hall provides a gracious welcome, surrounding visitors upon their arrival with spectacular recreations of great 18th-century American architecture.

Architectural Tradition

It is through the Entrance Hall that guests approach the large reception rooms, and this space, designed by Edward Vason Jones, sets the stage. It is also a handsome space on its own, as a composite of design ideas from 18th-century mansions in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.

The paneling on the walls is modeled after that in Carter’s Grove and Westover, two great Georgian plantation houses on the James River in Virginia. The design in the 13-foot ceiling comes from the Powel House in Philadelphia, where molds were taken of the decorative plasterwork in a second-floor chamber. In addition to floral designs, the plasterwork features a motif of musical instruments. Additional elements of the ceiling ornamentation come from the Andrew Low House in Savannah. Jones masterfully blended elements from America’s finest colonial homes to create this space.


The Entrance Hall of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms before and after its transformation by architect Edward Vason Jones.

Historical Furnishings

Some of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms’ most historically significant furniture lines the walls of this hall. One is a desk and bookcase by Benjamin Frothingham, a cabinetmaker who worked near Boston and served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Across the hall is a breakfront bookcase made before the Revolution by the personal cabinetmakers to King George III. 

Displayed on another desk is a bisque porcelain statue portraying King Louis XVI of France handing two treaties to Benjamin Franklin. These are the treaties Franklin negotiated to secure French friendship and military aid during the Revolution, support that ensured the war’s success. France was the first nation to recognize American independence from Great Britain, and these were the first treaties with a European nation that a representative of the United States nation signed. It was a critical moment in the history of American diplomacy.

The family of Francis Scott Key, the author of the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is also honored in this hall, with a painting of the family home. Six Chippendale chairs that once belonged to the Keys are placed along the hall, and on display are Chinese export porcelain soup plates also from this prominent Maryland political family.

Virtual Tour

The Entrance Hall
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The Architect

Edward Vason Jones
Edward Vason Jones mastered the tradition of architectural classicism, and composed the vision to transform the Diplomatic Reception Rooms into extraordinary tableaus that reflect the height of early American fine and decorative arts.
The Work of Edward Vason Jones

Objects in This Room

Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Bombé Desk and Bookcase

Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Bombé Desk and Bookcase

Frothingham, Benjamin
1753
wood; mahogany; white pine; eastern red cedar; Spanish cedar
Penn's Treaty with the Indians

Penn's Treaty with the Indians

Unknown
n.d.
oil on canvas
Chippendale Carved Mahogany High Chest of Drawers

Chippendale Carved Mahogany High Chest of Drawers

Davis, Joseph
ca. 1760-1780
wood; mahogany; southern yellow pine; eastern white pine; yellow-poplar; Atlantic white cedar
The Key House

The Key House

Key, John Ross
ca. 1908
oil on board
Chippendale Figured Mahogany Bombe Slant-Front Desk

Chippendale Figured Mahogany Bombe Slant-Front Desk

Unknown
ca. 1755-1770
wood; mahogany; eastern white pine
The National Lancers with the Reviewing Officers

The National Lancers with the Reviewing Officers

Lane, Fitz Henry (Hugh)
1837
oil on paper; in a gilt frame
Early View of The Capitol

Early View of The Capitol

de Grailly, Victor
ca. 1826
oil on canvas
The U.S. Sloop Wasp Coming up with the British Ship Frolic

The U.S. Sloop Wasp Coming up with the British Ship Frolic

Buttersworth, Thomas
1813
oil on canvas
First view of the battle of Patapsco Neck dedicated to those who lost their friends in defence of their country, Septr. 12, 1814

First view of the battle of Patapsco Neck dedicated to those who lost their friends in defence of their country, Septr. 12, 1814

Duluc, Andrew
1814
paper; hand-colored engraving on paper
Map of Virginia

Map of Virginia

Smith, Captain John
1612-1624
paper; engraving on laid paper
White Bisque Figural Group of Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin

Bisque Figure Group of Louis XVI and Benjamin Franklin

Sauvage, Charles Gabriel; Le Mire Pere
ca. 1780-1785
ceramic; bisque porcelain
Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Tall Case Clock

Chippendale Carved and Figured Mahogany Tall Case Clock

Bourghelle, Joseph
ca. 1775-1780
wood; mahogany; southern yellow pine; yellow-poplar; eastern white pine; Atlantic white cedar
Map of Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta

Map of Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta

White, John
1590
paper; engraving on laid paper
One from a Pair of Chinese Export Porcelain Cider Jugs and Covers Made for the American Market

One from a Pair of Chinese Export Porcelain Cider Jugs and Covers Made for the American Market

Unknown
ca. 1802-1810
ceramic; porcelain with overglaze enamels
Eight Chinese Export Porcelain Blue and White Octagonal Soup Plates

Eight Chinese Export Porcelain Blue and White Octagonal Soup Plates

Unknown
ca. 1775
ceramic; porcelain
Chinese Export Porcelain Dinner Plate

Chinese Export Porcelain Dinner Plate

Unknown
ca. 1820-1830
ceramic; porcelain
Chinese Export Porcelain Rose Fitzhugh Side Plate

Chinese Export Porcelain Rose Fitzhugh Side Plate

Unknown
ca. 1810-1820
ceramic; porcelain
Map of the American Continent, Americae nova Tabula

Map of the American Continent, Americae nova Tabula

Blaeuw (Bleau), Willem Janszoon
ca. 1630-1662
paper
Set of Eight Chinese Export Porcelain Wares

Set of Eight Chinese Export Porcelain Wares

Unknown
ca. 1820
ceramic; porcelain