Since its completion in 1815-1816, the Governor's Room has served as a museum and a reception hall celebrating the civic history of New York and the nation. The three chambers of the Governor's Room house one of the most important collections of late-18th- to mid-19th-century American portraiture, including paintings by John Trumbull; historic furnishings, including pieces by Charles Christian and Honoré Lannuier; and other notable artifacts, such as a desk used by George Washington and brought to City Hall in 1844.
While City Hall was completed in 1812, the earliest known reference to a "Governor's Room" does not appear until an 1813 Common Council request for the installation of window blinds. At that time, the Governor used the room for formal receptions as well as to receive visitors when he was in the city. The original drawings for City Hall include the central chamber of the room; the two side chambers were added to the original chamber in 1832 (west) and 1848-1849 (east).
Many distinguished guests have visited the Governor's Room, including President James Monroe, President Andrew Jackson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Albert Einstein, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The room hosted President-elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861, and served as the backdrop for his coffin in 1865 as he lay in state.
Throughout its history, the Governor's Room has been refurbished and restored several times, including a redecoration by Bernstein and Bernstein in 1905-1907 that was so unpopular that, immediately upon its completion, a full restoration was initiated by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage.
The 2001-2002 restoration included the addition of a temperature and humidity control system to help preserve and protect the portraiture, decorative art, and antiques. The rooms were painted their current green, inspired by historic research that unearthed bills for "French green" paint, which was also the historic color scheme at Mount Vernon and other buildings dating from the same period as City Hall.
The 2001-2002 restoration of the Governor's Room was made possible through the generous support of Edward A. Ames, The Associates of the Art Commission, Flora Miller Biddle, Bertram J. Cohn, Delta Upholsterers, Donghia Furniture/Textiles, Drake Design Associates, Barbara Fleischman, Rosemarie Fiorilli and Thomas Berglund, French Heritage Society, Diane A. and Paul B. Guenther, Landmarks Preservation Foundation, Nancy and Duncan MacMillan, The New-York Historical Society, The New York Public Library, Eliot C. and Wilson Nolen, The David Rockefeller Fund, Scalamandré, Cindy and Tom Secunda, Vista UVShield Window Film, John Willenbecher, and Merryl and Charles Zegar.