The Diplomatic Reception Room serves as an entrance to the White House from South Grounds for the family and for ambassadors arriving to present their credentials to the President. In the past, the area has had diverse uses: as a boiler and furnace room and as the site of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats.
Since 1960, the room has been furnished as a drawing room of the Federal Period (1790-1820)--with many fine examples of the craftsmanship of New York and New England cabinetmakers. The gold-and-white color scheme was chosen at that time. A Regency chandelier of cut glass and gilt bronze was added in 1971. The current rug, installed in 1983, was woven specially for the room. Its border incorporates emblems of the 50 states.
The striking panoramic wallpaper in this room, "Views of North America," was first printed in 1834 by Jean Zuber et Cie in Rixheim, Alsace. The complete set of 32 somewhat fanciful scenes, based on engravings of the 1820's shows American landscapes that were particularly admired by Europeans. Starting to the left of the doorway from the Ground Floor Corridor are the Natural Bridge of Virginia, Niagara Falls, New York Bay, West Point, and Boston Harbor. Wooden blocks were used to print on panels composed of small sheets of paper.