Gary Walters –> Stephen Rochon

President Bush just welcomed Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon to the position of chief usher of the White House, succeeding Gary Walters after 20 years. Here’s to a long and happy retirement to Mr. Walters and best wishes to the admiral and his new deputy, Dennis Freemyer.

Mr. Walters says that he is looking forward to a nice quiet retirement, managing the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and, on weekends and holidays, planning the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Update: The Wikipedia entry for “Gary Walters” is only for the basketball player. Let’s do something about that, eh?

Boatload of tourist snaps

Webshots has provided a boatload of snapshots taken by tourists on the 2006 holiday tours and a few others I’d overlooked before from previous years. There are too many to list here (see What’s New), but one is the first “real” pic of the East Wing Lobby!

They may be spelling-challenged, photography-challenged, and memory-challenged, but these tourists are precious to me. In the spirit of the Reathel Odum Distinguished Service Award (and tonight’s Oscars), I award Haleychura, Amber, Cdhopk, Spificwoman13, Sspin55, and all the others the Dan Quayle A for Effort Award.

Update: More touristy goodness!

Oval Office

Visitor Dennis pointed out that the picture of Ike in the Oval Office had to be wrong, because the fireplace wasn’t historically correct. I realized that I didn’t have a good picture of the Oval Office fireplace anywhere, but I found a nice one on the Truman Library site.

Update: The paneling is like the paneling in the family residence, not the OO, but the mantel is still a mystery. Perhaps this is actually a location in Ike’s library or home that happens to resemble the WH.

Grab bag and a puzzle

Dropped a few new photos in of various areas, including an intriguing one of the Roosevelt Room. The new one shows the ceiling very well with what appears to be a skylight. My (well, Pete’s) floor plan of the second floor does not show a skylight well, so I wonder if it’s really just a flourescent fixture, but Pete pointed out that there is a roof pylon in the right place that presumably is a skylight.

Press Briefing Room

Wingnut points out that a Politico article on Helen Thomas mentions that the Press Briefing Room won’t be ready until May or June, meaning that the room will have been out of commission for 10 or 11 months. We saw in Barney’s holiday video that the room was no where near done in December, so that seems accurate, but the long timeline is a stumper. Aside from the possibility that the administration has an ulterior political motive for keeping the press out of the WH, what could be the delay? Charles McKim restored the whole mansion in the same time frame.

My guess: they’re building in additional facilities of some sort underground.

Other presidential places

I mentioned at one time that I’d purchased and planned to do at least a few pages on the vice-president’s residence (Wonkette recently posted some really juicy photos called—in typical Wonkette fashion—”Inside the Monster’s Lair“), but I’ve also begun wondering about adding just a couple of pages about Air Force One (for which there are a good number of photos and even a pretty good diagram) and Camp David (for which there are some photos, but not a lot). I know these locations don’t have the allure of the White House, but they seem like logical extensions of the WHM.

I’m personally kind of curious about the old Mayflower and other presidential yachts, too, but I don’t think much in the way of photos or diagrams of them exist. I’m not very interested in Marine One or the presidential limos, since they are so small and utilitarian, but I know that some pretty good diagrams exist.

White House Today and Yesterday

The blog comments about the January 1961 issue of National Geographic and its cover article “Inside the White House” brought up this little book: The White House: Today and Yesterday. John in NOLA scanned the cover for us. He notes that this book is available through Abe Books and Amazon. Only 60 cents new, in 1962, the book is still available for next to nothing, but has some really wonderful photos—some John had never seen anywhere else and many we’ve all seen. “Worth adding to your collection, I assure you,” he says, altho he notes, “The size of the actual book is 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches,” so it’s quite small. I’ll check it out, but I’ll see if I can find the infamous “butcher” cover.

Also, visitor Chris points out that this week’s Newsweek features an article on the redecoration of the Lincoln Bedroom.

Update: Link to the Newsweek article online.

Yellow Oval chandelier

Mike B writes:

While looking on the site this morning, I noticed a photo of Laura Bush entertaining in the Yellow Oval Room. The chandelier overhead looked noticeably different from the one in past photos. Am I seeing things or was the chandelier recently switched with one that looks remarkably like one from the Kennedy/Johnson era ?

You are definitely correct. That certainly looks like the chandelier used in the Kennedy era. It’s beautiful and a tad less formal than the one used thru the Clinton era. It looks a lot like the one in the old Family Dining Room.

The American President audio commentary

I’ve completed the second White House-oriented audio commentary, this time for the movie The American President, starring Michael Douglas as a widowed top exec wooing Annette Bening. It’s over on my other website. The filmmakers managed several visits to the WH to get the details right. One of the things I note is the really beautiful blue watered silk wall-covering they chose for the president’s bedroom and the elegant, yet girlish, patterned wallpaper for the first daughter’s bedroom—really well done.

Also, Patrick P has contributed a detailed analysis of the film Wilson, which I put on the Movies page. Thanks, Patrick!

Update: Dennis points out that the French PM state dinner was modeled closely after the Yeltsin dinner, as depicted in the Inside the White House documentary. I’ve altered the page descriptions, but I think I’ll rerecord that part. Thanks for the tip, Dennis!

White House videos

John in NOLA reminded me of some White House videos I found on the CBS News web site that I could never get to run. I think I’ve got the wrong version of Javascript or something. If someone else can get them to play properly, let me know. If not, maybe the pages or the files themselves are actually set up incorrectly and the webmaster doesn’t know it. Other videos on the CBS News site run fine for me. (Arrgh.)

Bellangé bergère

Patrick P writes about the Monroe-era bergère chair in the Blue Room, noting that pic I have on that page is outdated now, since the chair has since been reupholstered properly with a separate cushion (as seen here). He offers a link to this interesting article on the subject. I’m adding a page for it.

I added a capture of the black and white image from that article, but it would be nice to have a good color picture of the chair as it is today, so be on the lookout.

Wingnut’s dream

As mentioned in the Lincoln post comments, Wingnut dreamed he got a chance to walk the halls of the White House and see all the nooks and crannies… but forgot his camera. That kicked off a series of others’ “dreams” for the White House. Mine is less about decor and more about architecture:

Turn the second floor small bedroom hall and entries into vestibules and their bathrooms into walk-in closets. Turn part of the north Closet Hall into a fenestrated bath for the east bedroom and the Beauty Salon into a fenestrated bath for the west bedroom. The vestibules create a space for a table and chair, where servants could pick up and leave trays and the occupants could drop bags, shoes, and coats. It turns hall space into closet space. And it gives me a chance to use the term “fenestrated.” I imagine plumbing over the Entrance Hall would be a pain, but I’m dreaming….

HABS photo collection

Visitor Chris reports:

I contacted the Library of congress today about possibly getting a hold of the HABS collection in color. They put me in touch with the national park service. I called them and they connected me to the original phtographer who did the white house.

I asked him about possibly getting the white house collection in color and he told me that is doesnt exist. The black and whites are how they photograph them, however at some points in major areas they will throw in a color one from the same angle just, as he put it “for fun”.

Dang. Thanks for the news, Chris. I was just contemplating ordering prints of a few of the HABS photos in hopes of getting them in color. They’re $25 a piece for 8 x 10″, so this saved me some cash.

Presidential Pet Museum news

Got this from the Presidential Pet Museum

As one of the first people who visited our website or supported the Presidential Pet Museum and Foundation, we want you to know that the Museum has relocated to 51 Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, Md. We would like to invite you to our official opening on Feb.17,18 & Presidents Day, from 11:00 to 6:00. We expect to unveil the Barney Bronze and would like you to join us. If not, we hope you will renew your friendship and support to our small museum and foundation and help up grow into a bigger and better institution. Your charitable donation, even $1.00 will support of the Presidential Pet Museum and Foundation for 2007. We attach our new Brochure and hope you continue as a friend, supporter, funder and contributor. Thank you.

Claire McLean, Founder

Claire has a pretty good site and an actual brick-and-mortar location near DC. Check it out.

On a related note: Go Colts!

More Reagan than you can shake a stick at

Logan P sent me a double helping of Reagan-era color photos from two different sources, one of which is the Dec 1981 issue of Architectural Digest (which, coincidentally, I had just bought on Ebay and which hadn’t arrived yet). That gave me my first look at the Master Bedroom Chinese wallpaper in color (a little underwhelming, actually) and Nancy’s study (a little overwhelming–it’s not Reagan red; it’s mint green!).

I’m pursuing permission from AD (Conde Nast, actually), but I’ll post them soon either way and take them down if I have too. I think they fall into fair use anyway, given that the site is purely educational, the pictures are of public interest, and the images I post are too small for print purposes, but I don’t want to step on copyrights where they apply.

Check the What’s New page.

Update: Okay–posted ’em. Boy, they look great. Thanks again, Logan!