Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spotlight on our Collections: Woodrow Wilson's Bed

Wilson's bedroom on the 3rd floor at the Woodrow Wilson House
         When deciding how to furnish Wilson’s bedroom at their new S Street residence, Edith Wilson tried to replicate her husband’s bedroom in the White House as much as possible. Small pieces of furniture, like footrests, pillows, and reading lights, were all kept relatively in the same positions as they had occupied in the White House. Tables were also put in the same places, conveniently located to hold Wilson’s papers and books. Above his bed, Edith included a banner presented to Wilson by an Italian artist in New York. The banner, made of silk and measuring 6 feet in length, features an eagle with an American flag waving in the background.  One of the most significant pieces of furniture in Wilson’s bedroom is his extraordinarily large bed.
Edith presented the bed as a gift to her husband, as she had commissioned the new bed be made the exact dimensions as the Lincoln Bed at the White House. The original Lincoln Bed was first purchased by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861, but President Lincoln probably never used it. Several presidents have used the Lincoln Bed at the White House after him, but few have beds similar in size outside the White House. Measuring 8 feet 6 inches x 6 feet 6 inches, the bed is longer than a king size bed today! Wilson’s bed is made of mahogany wood, with four posters standing at each corner. It was built in Grand Rapids, Michigan and delivered a day before the Wilsons moved in on March 4, 1921. The duplicate bed, however, is not designed in the same style as the Lincoln bed. Instead, it is made in a colonial revival style; the Lincoln bed was made during the mid-19th century. 

Wilson's bed with its original mattress

Wilson became accustomed to the bed during his stay in the White House. After his stroke in October, he was mostly confined to his bed.  As his illness progressed, the large dimensions of the bed made it comfortable for the ailing president.  It was also in this bed that Wilson passed away on February 3, 1924 at the age of 67. People lined the streets outside the house on S Street to pay their respects. He was buried at the Washington National Cathedral a few days later. 

-Catherine Yuan

1 comment :

  1. Great information here! Thank you so much for the information. :D