Ike strikes back

With the idea that the photo of Ike was taken in the West Bedroom quashed by cruel logic, I re-examined the Private Dining Room as the scene of the crime… er… photo op. That made me re-search the Truman Library for more pics of the room in the 50s, which I found. Additional research is now making me lean toward the Treaty Room.

17 thoughts on “Ike strikes back

  1. That’s the best evidence yet. In the absence of any other theory, I’d say you’ve solved it. And smaller details/differences from the Eisenhower pic to the Clinto era pic don’t matter – details change over time.

  2. Hmmmmmmmm. I’m beginning to wonder if pictures taken with a wide-angle lens tend to stretch the panels in the wainscot from squares into rectangles. And vice-versa.

    These are great pics of that sitting room. They have a real “Leave it to Beaver”/Harry Knows Best” quality to them. 🙂
    Is this the room that Mimlog (?) said was Wedgewood blue?

  3. Isn’t that mirror over the mantle in Margaret Truman’s sitting room (what’s new page)the same mirror that’s in the wonderous new Lincoln Bedroom? Sure looks like it! That’s nice to know.

  4. Harry Knows Best? Don’t you mean Father Knows Best? (June Cleaver is my favorite TV mom.)

    The Family Sitting Room was wedgewood blue before the Truman renovation. But, it was more pink and green afterwards. The drapes on the windows were moved into the Master Bedroom by MDE for her beloved and usual bedroom colors of pink and green. The patterned chairs and pinks were moved, too.

    I think that the Treaty Room is a better candidate than the Sitting Room. The Fireplace has a breastwork, as in the photo. There is no breastwork in the Private Dining Room. Also, if done for TV, it is very possible that a plain rug would have been substituted for the patterned rug that was in the “Monroe” room until the JBK restoration. Since the Monroe Room would have been semi-public, it would make more sense to have a TV interview in there.

    The breastwork, by the way, is made far more difficult to see by the JBK wallpaper. It is very obvious in the post-Truman photos.

  5. Somebody I know once refered to the removal of the chimney breast in the Blue Room during the 1902 Roosevelt Renovation as “Breast Reduction”…

  6. ah…I’d never seen this angle of the Treaty room. I didn’t know or had forgotten it had the horrible chevrolet panels. AND there is that little recess where the panel wraps around a corner, like in the photo….
    very interesting! I thought I had it, but that’s why it’s called forensics!

  7. “Horrible Chevrolet Panels”


    It’s interesting (for someone who’s designed his share of paneled rooms) to realize that the only “true” raised paneling on the second floor is in the East/Center/West Sitting Halls. The wainscot “paneling” in the other rooms – including the Yellow Oval Room before architect Edward Vason Jones (my architectural hero) removed it in the 1970’s – is just applied moulding in the space between the dado (chair) rail and the baseboard. That seems to be what McKim did, back in 1902. Downstairs in the Red, Blue and Green Rooms, it’s very definitely real raised paneling.

  8. Glad you liked that John! That’s what they remind me of! I’m not a fan of them. This is true about the “panels”. Funny, to me it is not hard to make a raised panel. One simply sets the table saw at an extreme angle and sets the height of the blad to cut the board at an angle, but leave just a touch of straigh board for the reveal of the panel. There are kits now which will shape them for you, as well as the rails and stiles, as I am sure you well know. Some years back we had the entire house remodeled. I was not satisfied with the waincoting the contractor installed so I am replacing it all bit by bit with real raised paneled wainscoting. One of my favorite rooms in the US is John Adams study in the Old House in Quincy, MA. The raised panels in that room are stunning. I think it’s true that that must be McKim’s work. I equate those panels with Maud Shaw’s “wicker basket for banana peels”.

    Also, I am just now reading J.B. West’s Upstairs at the White House. I’m up to “Perky Mamie Eisenhower”.

  9. pardon my typos…My keyboard decided to drop e’s and t’s today. I can’t control it!

  10. Wingnut –

    If you have a copy of Betty Monkman’s book “The White House – Its Historic Furnishings and First Families” you can see a really excellent example of raised paneling on page 189 – the full-page picture of a wall in the State Dining Room, with the gilt mirror and the oak side table with the eagle supports. Also, in the same book, just a couple of pages in – opposite the page with the “date of publication”, etc., there’s a really large picture of the Red Room mantle and the wainscot to the left of it. That wainscot is made with raised paneling.

    If you have a copy of Seale’s book “The White House – The History of An American Idea”, there’s a really great picture of the mantle in the State Dining Room on page 289, that also shows raised paneling. Also on page 308 of the same book, in the picture of the Oval Office – this may be the best of all to really show the concept of “raised panels”. Look to the left of the grandfather clock – where it meets the wall – and notice the shadows as they follow the level changes of the paneling – the way the wainscot is flat at the edge, then there’s a moulding – then it dips down – then a bevel up and then a flat, raised panel in the center of the section of wainscot. Then the whole thing repeats itself at the other side of the panel. That’s raised paneling (on a wainscot). And – like in the State Dining Room, you can use this feature to create whole walls – it’s all about the play of light and shadow.

    I grew up in a typical suburban house and I never knew first hand how important that was until I moved into a (real fixer-upper) greek-revival house with beautiful mouldings and turned the dimmer way down low on the light fixtures to simulate gaslight. Suddenly the mouldings all over the place popped out in a way I’d never experienced before and I was totally blown away and realized that all of these architectural devices were used to define walls and architectural elements in the low artificial light conditions and natural daylight of a pre-electric world. Just like gilded picture frames and mirrors were so important to reflect and intensify light.

    Of course, walls like this are still beautiful lit with modern fixtures, but there’s a whole other quality to them when they are lit as they were originally meant to be seen.

    The wainscot on the panels in the rooms on the 2nd floor ot the W.H. (except for the East/Center & West Halls) are "simulated" raised paneling – in other words, take a flat piece of plywood and cut thin wood mouldings and fasten them to the plywood in the shape of panels that approximate the look of true raised paneling. It looks OK, but you will never get the elegance and depth of the real thing.

    Hope this helps!

  11. Sorry – didn’t mean to write that much – but I just think it totally rocks that for the first time, I can actually “talk” with other White House buffs – share information, bounce ideas around, learn new things and – hopefully – contribute something to the general pool of info. (I KNEW you guys were out there SOMEWHERE!)

    Derek has given us the most amazing gift and I think it’s so extremely unselfish and wonderful of him to do this!

    Just don’t tell him, or it’ll go to his head, OK?

  12. I still wonder if the photo was taken at the White House. It certainly fits the Treaty/Monroe Room, except that the picture above the fireplace and light sconce do not match with any photos of the room during the Eisenhower administration. It’s one thing to change rugs for TV, but would they have changed the wall above the fireplace?

    That also rulls out the family sitting room which had a full length mirror above the fireplace, and no breastwork.

    The west bedroom doesn’t work because of the fireplace itself.

    Finally, the chair Ike is sitting in doesn’t look like any I’ve seen in any of the many photos of the White House during his term.

    Is this a question someone could pose to the White House curator?

  13. Good point Dennis, but it could be from before or after the Eisenhower Admin. He’d been at the WH before he was prez and after I’m sure.

  14. Last night I watched the portion of the “Jackie White House Tour” that shows the Monroe Room mantle. At least in January of 1962 (when it was filmed) that mantle was definitely NOT the one in the “Ike Pic” in question.

    Dennis has a very good point – maybe this picture wasn’t taken in the White House at all! I wonder if there might be some room at the Eisenhower Library that was made up to simulate a room at the White House (other than the Oval Office – if there is a replica at the Eisenhower Library) for broadcasts, etc. I know it sounds far-fetched, but I’m just throwing that idea out there.

    Also – have we seen a good picture of the fireplace wall of the EAST bedroom BEFORE the changes made during the Reagan years? This wall – except for the absence of the doorway that the West Bedroom has – was built to be identical to the west bedroom. I’ve noticed that in the color picture of the east bedroom when it was Nancy Reagan’s office, that considerable work had been done to the cabinets/niches/shelves along that wall. At some point the wainscot – that used to recess to follow the niched bookshelves – was built out to be continuous and flat along that wall. All sorts of changes could have been done at that point. I looked on the Truman Library website for a good pic of the fireplace wall of the East Bedroom (as it probably would have looked during the Eisenhower years), but couldn’t find one.

  15. Actually, examining the photos of the room with Susan and Betty Ford and as Caroline’s bedroom, one does see the wainscot following the wall by the built in shelves. That may be a clue!

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