Truman Study

When the White House underwent a major renovation from 1948 to 1952, President Harry S. Truman moved into Blair House and chose this room as his office. In President Truman’s time, the walls were painted green; he worked at a small desk with his back to the fireplace.

Historic Moments
An unsuccessful attempt was made on President Truman's life on November 1, 1950, while he was living at Blair House. White House Police Officer Private Leslie Coffelt, who was guarding the Lee House door closest to the President’s office, died while repelling the attackers, two Puerto Rican Nationalists. He remains the only White House police officer ever killed in the line of duty. A memorial plaque commemorating Officer Coffelt is affixed to Blair House’s front fence.

Before President Ronald Wilson Reagan’s state funeral on June 11, 2004, former First Lady Nancy Reagan received visitors in the Truman Study.

View the room in more detail

Truman Study
  • Jefferson Rent Table

    Jefferson Rent Table

    Featuring lettered drawers for alphabetical filing, this modern reproduction of Thomas Jefferson’s rent table at Monticello, made by Biggs of Richmond, VA, was to be a gift from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Never presented, its engraved silver label says, “Nobusuke Kishi, Staunch leader of the free world, from his friend Dwight David Eisenhower, Tokyo, June 1960.”

  • Convex Mirror, 1810–1820

    Convex Mirror, 1810–1820

    This classical gilt convex mirror is topped by a spread-winged eagle holding pendant chains with a single acorn ornament in its beak, perched on rocks, and flanked by dolphins. The concave frame has leaf carving, spherules, and four serpentine all-gilt-wood candle arms. Before modern lighting, mirrors like this one were used to amplify and spread candlelight throughout a room. Made in either Boston or England, it is original to Blair House.

  • Mantel, 1902

    Mantel, 1902

    The design of this mantel is attributed to Charles F. McKim for the 1902 redecoration of the White House. Removed during the 1948–1952 renovations from a bedroom once occupied by Mrs. Theodore (Edith) Roosevelt, it was installed in Blair House during President Harry S. Truman’s temporary residence. In 1987–1988, it was completely restored in fresh white enamel with gold leaf accents.

  • Portrait of Elizabeth Blair Lee, 1840

    Portrait of Elizabeth Blair Lee, 1840

    Elizabeth “Lizzie” Blair Lee was the only daughter of Francis Preston and Eliza Gist Blair. In over 900 detailed, insightful letters to her naval officer husband during the Civil War, she provided a unique chronicle of the Union cause comparable to the better-known diaries of Confederate Mary Boykin Chestnut.

    Painted by Thomas Sully in June 1840 shortly after the completion of her mother's portrait, this oil-on-canvas of Elizabeth in gilt wood frame was given to Blair House by her great-grandchildren in 2000.

  • Portrait of Samuel Phillips Lee, 1845

    Portrait of Samuel Phillips Lee, 1845

    Samuel Phillips Lee was a third cousin of Robert E. Lee and the Francis Preston Blairs' son-in-law, marrying their only daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Blair. Her father built Lee House for the couple.

    Painted by Thomas Sully two years after the couple's marriage, this oil-on-canvas portrait hung next to the portrait of Elizabeth in Lee House until the early 20th century. Their great-grandchildren officially donated it to Blair House in 2000.

  • Portrait of Eliza Violet Gist Blair, 1840

    Portrait of Eliza Violet Gist Blair, 1840

    Known as “The Lioness” by her family, Eliza Blair was the daughter of a Revolutionary War hero and wife of Francis Preston Blair. Mrs. Blair sat for this oil-on-canvas portrait by Thomas Sully in the spring of 1840; the artist's fee was $200. With the portrait of her husband, it was donated to Blair House in 2000 by two of her great-grandsons.

  • Portrait of James Blair, 1843

    Portrait of James Blair, 1843

    James Blair was the second son of Francis Preston and Eliza Gist Blair. In this painting, he is 24 years old and an officer in the United States Navy. He would depart a few years later to seek his fortune in the American West, never returning to Blair House.

    This oil-on-canvas portrait was commissioned by his father and painted at Blair House in October 1843 by Thomas Sully. It was donated to Blair House in 2000 by a direct family descendant.

  • Portrait of Francis Preston Blair, 1845

    Portrait of Francis Preston Blair, 1845

    This oil-on-canvas portrait of Blair family patriarch Francis Preston Blair was painted in early May 1845 by Thomas Sully. For many years, it hung alongside a companion portrait of his wife Eliza in the Blair House Entrance Hall during the winters and traveled with the family to their farm in Silver Spring, Maryland, in summers. The portrait, in its gilt wood frame, was officially given to Blair House in 2000 by two of the Blairs’ great-grandsons.

  • Portrait of Harry S. Truman, 1988 copy of original

    Portrait of Harry S. Truman, 1988 copy of original

    American artist Greta Kempton (1903–1991) graciously reinterpreted her original 1947 official White House portrait of the president as a special commission for the Truman Study by Mr. and Mrs. Joe L. Allbritton as part of their larger gift in endowing this important room at the conclusion of the Reagan administration renovations 1987–1988. Signed and dated by the artist in paint, lower left.