- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

The many antiques in the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms continue to impress visitors long after their owners have parted with them. There are 42 of these various-sized rooms, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted during Friday’s annual reception feting donors, who upped the ante this year to a record $750,000. In-kind offerings included a five-piece silver tea and coffee service dating from 1815 to 1820 and a classic Philadelphia side chair once owned by President Monroe.

Miss Rice, who greeted all guests individually in a long receiving line, admitted not having visited all of the rooms but remarked on their personal importance to her. She was sworn in to her present job by President Bush in the grandest one — the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room — on the building’s top floor, where she often greets foreign dignitaries and where she swears in U.S. ambassadors and new foreign service officers.

The occasion also was a “welcome home” for some 187 “treasures” that normally occupy the rooms and that have been traveling across the country “so people could see outstanding American craftsmanship” of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

— Ann Geracimos

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