LONGVIEW, Texas (CBS Houston) – The road to the Oval Office is wrought with hardship but one man found an easier way.
Ron Wade, a retired state worker, built his own Oval Office in his Longview home.
The facsimile is about an 80th of the size of the real Oval Office, but as Ron Wade insisted, it would be meticulously reproduced.
Wade’s version includes the same portraits, and custom made ceiling that the real Oval Office contains.
Some of the props, however, are real. Wade owns a rocking chair that belonged to President John F. Kennedy. Wade even owns Kennedy’s old car. He and his family will dress up like the former president’s family and drive around in it.
The cost of the faux Oval Office was around $250,000. Planning for it started in 2001. It took over two years to plan, and then eight months of construction. It was completed in 2004.
When it was still on the drawing board, Wade was still making purchases for his project, like the carpet and the ceiling with the presidential seal which he had to special order.
“I contacted a man in Philadelphia. He did creative carving and things like that,” Wade told CBS Houston. “He carved it in wood first, then he made a mold and put in the plaster.”
Getting the ceiling to Texas was a challenge.
“It cost over $400 to ship,” Wade explained. “It was so heavy, and when it was here they needed a lift to get it up. But it was too short by a foot-and-a-half so they had to do it themselves. I was really nervous for that last part.”
Wade has met a number of presidents, such as Richard Nixon, who brought Wade to the real Oval Office for the first time. Wade was also friends with Lyndon Johnson.
But his favorite president is his lifelong friend George W. Bush. They met when Bush’s father ran for Congress.
“Been a friend of mine since I was 13-years-old. He’s the only president who did what he said he would do.”
Recently, Wade has gotten a little bit of fame for his pet project. He was featured on TLC’s “My Strange Obsession” which has opened up some new collecting opportunities.
“I never know what’s coming up next,” Wade says. “Because of the show I had people coming up to me to buy all of these items, like the actual dinner plates from Abraham Lincoln. The real things!”