The size (79 feet by 36 feet, with 19-foot 10-inch ceilings) of the East Room makes the first impression upon the visitor. Not large in comparison with the halls in the great houses and palaces of Europe, it was enormous by nineteenth-century American standards. The room was as large as Abraham Lincoln's entire house in Springfield. The Garfield boys, Irwin (age eleven) and Abram (age nine), rode their velocipedes and the Roosevelt children roller-skated in this great empty space.

The second powerful impression comes from the three chandeliers, immense by any standards. The north and south fixtures are each made up of 6137 pieces of cut Bohemian glass; the central chandelier has 12 additional drops. The bottom crystal hangs only 9 feet 1 ½ inches above the floor. It takes one man two days to clean one chandelier.

These massive lights were particularly difficult to miniaturize and electrify. John Zweifel had to find a glassblower who could blow the entire 10-inch-high chandelier in one piece, but with such delicate designs that it looked to be constructed of over 6000 crystal drops. Each miniature chandelier has 55 light bulbs the size of a grain of rice and 110 hairlike electrical wires that need to be coaxed into tiny, tight openings by hands that in comparison look like giants' appendages.