THE BLUE RIBAND BLOG

Flagship FAQs: Are the SS United States' Interiors Still Intact?

Today, we’re back to answer another important question posed by our generous supporters: Are the interiors on America's Flagship still intact?

Interiors aboard the SS United States. Courtesy of Mark B. Perry.

Unfortunately, the SS United States’ fittings were all dismantled in the 1980s and 1990s by previous owners, both for financial gain and to remove building materials popular in the 1950s that were later deemed hazardous.

Many of the ship’s fittings and works of art do survive to this day, largely housed in private collections. The Conservancy’s mission includes a restoration of several of the ship’s grand public rooms to their original configuration with both original and replica materials. We are also presently undertaking a special project to catalogue the location and ownership of the remaining fittings from the vessel including furniture, artwork, china, and other items.

If you believe that you own original artwork, furnishings, china, or other items from the SS United States, please fill out our object loan survey or reach out to archives@ssusc.org.

Learn more about the skilled designers behind the vessel's fabulous interiors:

While the SS United States was designed by Gibbs & Cox, the architects Eggers & Higgins laid out its interior, and Anne Urquhart and Dorothy Marckwald of the Manhattan firm of Smyth, Urquhart & Marckwald designed the decor.

First Class observation lounge aboard the SS United States. Courtesy of Mark B. Perry.

To some extent the pair reprised the successful interiors of the SS America, adding the inviolate dictate that only non-flammable materials be used, along with the most modern furniture designs available in the day. Instead of traditional woods, the interior featured aluminum furniture and trim, rubber flooring, glass tabletops, and synthetic-fiber bedspreads and draperies. In total, 15,500 pieces of bespoke furniture were made for the ship, all upholstered with custom, nonflammable fabrics.

Color coordination aboard the SS United States was thoroughly studied, and colors were chosen by Urquhart and Marckwald to achieve bright, cheerful and comfortable interiors, moving away from the ornate styles of old liners. Colors and designs inspired by nature, and multiple geometric fabric patterns, were chosen to decorate the vessel, while keeping in mind Marckwald's decree:

"One thing we don't do on a ship is use color that is at all yellowish green — you know, anything that will remind a traveler of the condition of his stomach.”

First Class dining room. Courtesy of Mark B. Perry.

For more answers to frequently asked questions about the SS United States and the Conservancy, CLICK HERE to read our full summary. Additionally, if you believe that you own original artwork, furnishings, or other items from the vessel, please drop us a line at archives@ssusc.org.

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