Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the State Department – Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room (Intro)

Design of the State Dining Room
By John Blatteau.

Design was chosen as the result of an invitational competition.

– Dimensions: 50 x 100 ft.
– Ceiling: 17 ft. (original) raised to 21 ft.
– Modified to accomodate architectural elements.

Architectural Elements
32 Corinthian Columns
– Created using scagliola (faux-marble technique – plasterwork immitation of ornamental marble)

23 karat gold leafing highlights the capitals, entablature, and coffered cove.

8 Adams style chandeliers (modern)
– Designed specifically for this room.

The Great Seal (Ceiling)
Molded in plaster.

American Bald Eagle
– Looking towards right talon holding the olive branch of peace.
– Looking away from left talon holding arrows of war.
– 13 stars above the eagle’s head represent 13 original states.

The Department of State has been the home of the Great Seal, since the Secretary of State was appointed it’s custodian in 1789.

Creation of The Great Seal
After the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776, a committee was formed to prepare a symbol for a national emblem.

It took 6 years and 3 committees to finally approve the national seal.

Benjamin Franklin was greatly disappointed, because he wanted the turkey to be the central theme.

The bald eagle was chosen because it’s native only to North America.

The Savonnerie Style Rug
Designed by the architect (John Blatteau).
Made by the Fields Company of Long Island, NY
Dimensions: 92 x 38 ft.

Elements from the Great Seal.
– Central cloud and stars motif – 13 original collonies.
– 50 stars – 5o states and the sky.

4 trophies of the harvest
– Most important crops to the new republic.
– Cotton, corn, rice, and tobacco.

Earth and water border the field of the carpet.

Official Functions
The room is used 5 – 20 times a week for:
– Large state receptions.
– State occasions.
– Swearing-in ceremonies for Ambassadors and Foreign Service Officers.
Event Specifications
250 guests – seating round tables of 10.
375 guests – standing room buffet.

Caterers
– Efficient.
– Knowledgable of dietary habits of foreign guests.

Full service kitchen only for warming and serving.

Smaller dining rooms for small luncheons or breakfast.

Perfect setting for official entertaining.

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