Anyone who caught the President's press conference this morning noticed the setting was unfamiliar. He wasn't in the East Room, or the Briefing Room. He wasn't even in the White House. He was across the street in the Old Executive Office Building, in the Indian Treaty Room. Correspondent Peter Maer dropped by the White House web site this morning, and found out more. -- Ed.
The Treaty Room was used for presidential press conferences from 1950 until 1960. President Eisenhower held the first "live" televised presidential press conference here on January 19, 1955.
Located in the former Navy Department Wing is the Indian Treaty Room, which was originally known as the Navy Department Library and Reception Room.
It is a very historic setting:
The reason for the room's name "Indian Treaty Room" is a mystery. It is not clear where it originated, despite extensive research. Some believe it was due to the fact that during the 1930s the War Department stored papers there, including treaties with the American Indian nations. But this is not true, as the State Department used it for storage until the 1940s after the Navy Library moved out. Although most treaties were signed in the State Department Diplomatic Reception Room (and the Secretary of State's office), some pacts were signed in the Indian Treaty Room. These include the Bretton Woods Treaty- establishing the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Peace Treaty with Rumania, Italy and Hungary after WWII, and the UN Charter.
Completed in 1879, it cost more to construct than any other room in the (Executive Office) building at about $33.50 per square foot (total $55,675.00 in 1879 dollars). The room was used as a library and a reception room.
It is one of the most ornate government rooms in Washington.
The design of the room includes many nautical motifs - such as shells over the Italian and French marble panels; seahorses and dolphins in the cast iron railing at the second floor balcony; stars for navigation in the ceiling and the compass in the center of the floor. The floor is the original English Minton tile floor The room contains the only surviving original lighting fixtures in the building.