Designed by George Washington and James Hoban as the “public audience room” of the White House, the large East Room has served a variety of formal and informal purposes. First Lady Abigail Adams would hang out her laundry here in the winter of 1800 -1801.
Thomas Jefferson’s aide Meriwether Lewis used part of the unfinished East Room for sleeping quarters and an office before leaving to lead the famed Lewis & Clark expedition. In 1861, at the opening of the Civil War, the East Room was used as quarters by Union troops. It would later serve as the site of President Lincoln’s funeral.
After Steinway and Sons donated a grand piano to the White House in 1903, the room became a venue for concerts and performances, particularly during the Kennedy administration when the White House became a center for America’s arts.
During the Obama Administration, the East Room has been the site of the signing of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, as well as a music series to celebrate the arts with performances by Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and many others.