It has not fallen to my lot to meet a man more skilled at the useful art of entertaining his friends than Otis.
-Letter from John Quincy Adams to John Adams, October 29, 1816
This formal room was reserved for the purposes of entertaining. The Otises used this room as a parlor or dining room, arranging furniture to meet their changing needs. The term “dining room” was not used in the Federal era, but if the Otises were to serve a grand meal to many people, this room was the most convenient because it led to the pantry, the kitchen and the wine cellar through the two doors on the far side of the room. The room was far too formal to be used for simple family meals and it was too much trouble to set up the large table and heat the room for only a few people.
The Federal style continues from the façade of the house into the design of this room. Each window has a corresponding door on the opposite wall, maintaining a strict balance. This symmetry is kept thanks to the installation of a false door in the opposite corner of the room. The door does not open and was installed purely to keep the room in harmony.
Neoclassical design with its characteristic swags, urns and classical imagery, was increasingly popular in the newly-formed United States. Ancient images borrowed from classical times brought to mind the successful democracies of Greece and Rome, models for the new country.