There’s a Very Specific Reason Why the Oval Office Is an Oval

Updated: May 09, 2024

It's not just for the sake of alliteration.


The White House also happens to be the seat of the United States government and the home of the President. The first stone of the White House was laid in October of 1792 and by 1800, John Adams was the first president to take up residence in the famed structure. This is what it’s really like to work for the President, straight from the staff.

Why is the oval, oval?

Three rooms in the first design of the White House were oval-shaped so that the president could take part in a greeting ceremony known as a “levee.” The White House Historical Association breaks down the details of the antiquated affair:

“Invited guests entered the room and walked over to the president standing before the fireplace and bowed as a presidential aide made a low announcement of their names. The visitor then stepped back to his place. After 15 minutes the doors were closed and the group would have assembled in a circle. The president would then walk around the circle, addressing each man by his name from memory with some pleasantry or studied remark of congratulation, which might have a political connotation. He bowed, but never shook hands. When he had rounded the circle, the president returned to his place before the mantel and stood until, at a signal from an aide, the guests went to him, one by one, bowed without saying anything, and left the room.”

The formal procedure was eventually done away with by Thomas Jefferson who viewed it as having too much of a monarchical feel to it. Although the Oval Office was built in 1909, it retained the oval design to mirror those first three rooms in the original White House. Don’t miss these 12 other mind-blowing White House facts you missed in history class.

Source: Quora