A Conversation between LBJ and Gordon Bunshaft

November 10, 1968 8:57 p.m.

Operator: Mr. Bunshaft on the line.
B: Yes?

Operator: Go ahead, sir.

LBJ: Gordon?

B: Yes?

LBJ: Lyndon Johnson.

B: Oh, yes, Mr. President.  How are you?

LBJ: I hope I’m not interrupting your dinner or something.

B: Oh, no, no.  I--we finished some time ago.

LBJ: Gordon, we--I just learned tonight, our folks have been out looking at these libraries and is there no way in the world that we could reconstitute as nearly as possible in the President’s office at the Library the President’s office here?

B: Well, we hadn’t thought of it, but it’s possible--

LBJ: I hate to build me a little one out there at the side and say, this is the way the President’s office looked.  And here’s his desk and here’s his chair.  Here’s his FDR picture.  Here’s his--where all these people sat. Now, that is the most attractive thing, they tell me, to the people who go and hear it, is Truman discussing where he sat in this office.

B: Yes.

LBJ: And--

B: [talking over each other]  I didn’t know that the Tru—in Kansas of Mr. Truman—President Truman--

LBJ: Lady Bird said we--well, we have a trouble--she says it just ought to be, we just should have thought of it, we just played hell not doing it.  And now we got a bunch of can’t-do philosophy.  She says that the ceiling’s not high enough--well maybe we don’t have to have the same height ceiling but maybe--and maybe we can’t have the same oval room, maybe it—we’ve got different dimensions.  But it seems to me that if we could, we ought to take this rug out of here and this--just as the Kennedy’s are doing and have done, just as the Trumans did--and ought to take the desk and ought to take the chairs, and we ought to say--you see, very--relatively few people come through the President’s office here.

B: Yes.

LBJ: --but all of them want to see where the President worked, just as much as they want to see where the President was born, when they come to our little house.  That’s one of the basic things, and it’s going to be remembered and impress it on them a lot more than some book up in a shelf.

B: Yeah.

LBJ: And if we could, I just—that’s the one thing I want.  I’d like to have as near a reproduction as finances and architectural requirements would permit.  I don’t say it’s got to be 18 feet high or 14, or it’s got to be 38 feet long. 

B: Well—

LBJ: We might have a little card on the door and say this is not an exact reproduction, or something, but I’d like for it to be such that, say--where they get an impression that here’s where the President worked, because they all want to see that.  They all want to—that’s what they come to see.

B: Yes.  Well, Mr. President, we’ll get the dimensions and we’ll try several locations—maybe there’s more than on—and it would be nice, if we could do it, to do it exactly, because I think the quality of that room is the total thing.  And it may be possible to do it.