The President’s Room, which was built as part of the 1850s extension of the Capitol, is one of the most highly decorated spaces in the building. It was planned to fulfill an important function. Originally, the terms of office for the president and Congress began at the same time–March 4 at noon. Consequently, outgoing presidents often visited the Capitol, and the President’s Room, during a session’s final hours to sign last-minute legislation hurriedly passed by outgoing Congresses. The 20th Amendment in 1933 eliminated the need for the room by separating the ends of congressional and presidential terms.
The room is decorated with painted wall and ceiling murals completed in 1860 by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi. Portraits of President Washington and his first cabinet adorn the walls, elegantly framed with floral motifs; on the ceiling are allegorical figures personifying the foundations of government, along with historical portraits representing fundamental aspects of the development of the nation. This 1865 engraving of the President’s Room appeared in period guidebooks, where the room was described as "one of the gems of the Capitol."
1. John B. Ellis, The Sights and Secrets of the National Capital (Chicago: Jones, Junkin, 1869), 89.