More Johnson and a little more Truman

Visitor Todd S sent a note about a mysterious picture in the Truman archives that turned out to be a mislabeled pic of the Vermeil Room in 1952 1948. While I was nosing around, I also found a pic of the Library in 1948, something else I didn’t have. Now if I could only find some ground floor pics from the 1902 renovation….

Also, I added a several more images from the Johnson archives, and a pic that John in NOLA sent a while ago of the Nellie Custis (Washington) sofa.

Open post: Window sheers

Visitor Luke asks the question:

I have noticed that some rooms no longer have under-curtains/sheers at the windows. Why do you think this has been done?

My thought is that the various reasons for sheers have slowly gone away: privacy, limiting heat transfer, limiting UV penetration (which fades fabrics). Removing them makes the rooms seem more open, and provides better light and better views. And privacy isn’t much of a concern in the public rooms.

Johnson archives

Prompted by an e-mail asking when LBJ exchanged the Boudin red Oval Office carpet for the old Truman bluish-greenish-grayish carpet, I began trolling the Johnson Library archives and found numerous good photos that I’d never come across before, including a May ’64 pic that show the red carpet in the Oval Office and a Nov ’67 pic that suggests that Johnson may have used it in the Fish Room (today’s Roosevelt Room).

UPDATE: Just found a photo of the OO with red rug in February 1965, much later than I thought it was there.

The porticoes

I added a 1906 pic of the North Portico and a terrific 1858 pic of the South Portico that I found in the Library of Congress. These go nicely with the text I added in the wee hours last night.

This just made me notice that the North Portico was redesigned as part of the Truman renovation. The steps on the sides where changed to be more expansive, something that had escaped me before. So I added a couple of other pics to illustrate that better.

Open post: White House as a stage for national mourning

The White House has begun serving as a kind of stage for national mourning, as it has many times in the past. It is at these times, I think, that it proves least capable of fulfilling its duty—especially now, when the Press Briefing Room is still being renovated and press conferences must be held in the East Room or outside, and the weather is not good enough to use the Rose Garden. There used to be inadequate facilities for monitoring breaking news, but I think the new Sit Room probably has remedied that.

Kennedy rooms

I’ve posted several photos from the 1962 Guide, including some from the West Wing and Residence. It’s interesting to finally see some of the pre-makeover decor in color, looking pretty much as it looked in the Truman and Eisenhower eras.

1962 Guide

Arrived home to find the 1962 Guide waiting for me, a bargain from Ebay at 99¢ + $4.75 shipping. It features JFK’s Oval Office with Truman decor, the Truman patterned Blue Room, and my first glimpse of JFK’s Pre-Roosevelt Room “Fish Room,” with mounted sailfish! Several other rooms are shown before their makeover also, including the Family Dining Room, which also includes an 1889 pic that I’ve never seen before. I’ll post photos in a day or so.

John in NOLA, I think you mentioned some time ago how to tell if it was a first edition or second edition. Can you refresh my memory?

Winslow’s second floor solution

Duane writes:

A comparison of 1948 photos and post-Renovation photos indicates a difference in the distance between window sills and floor level in rooms on the western side of the residence floor. This suggests that the Renovation itself involved elevating the floor level west of the staircase landing, including the landing, perhaps to allow for a shallower pitch to the ramp from the landing to the level of the East Sitting Hall and adjacent suites. Such a change in the floor level, however, would have required a change in the floor of the balcony as well in order to keep it at the same level as the Yellow Oval Room. Attempts to contact likely sources of information on this matter have not been successful. Does anyone have information regarding this matter?

UPDATE: John sent a very informative pic of the door to the balcony.


Watched Fail-Safe this evening and added an analysis of its depiction of the White House to the Movies & TV page. Nearly all the WH scenes occur in the Sit Room, which is depicted as a concrete bunker with a handset telephone while the Pentagon and SAC have sophisticated video screens and speaker phones. Walter Matthau’s math (60 million dead is empirically better than 100 million dead) is unintentionally hilarious today, but Henry Fonda is so presidential, you’ll be chilled anyway.

Barber Shop mystery

Returning once again to the Truman Library archives (the gift that keeps on giving), I came across this image of the “barber shop,” labeled “room BM-10.” At first I thought it was the second floor Beauty Salon, but then I compared it with the West Wing Barber Shop picture, and that’s a better fit, tho not perfect (I’ve put it there for now). I haven’t come across any room numbering scheme that shows “BM-10,” so it could be in the WW ground floor or maybe the basement, for which I have no official floor plans (altho the WH has used different room number schemes at different times). Any ideas?

Open post: Nothing new

Nothing new here. I had hoped to have a Clinton-era An Historic Guide waiting for me, but the Ebay seller is a bit slow. I just ordered the Gary Walters interview from C-SPAN and a White House music documentary called In Tune With History, which hopefully will have something new. I’m holding out for photos of Chester Arthur playing the banjo.

I don’t understand MySpacers

Visits to have been increasing pretty steadily since it went live in June 2006. In mid-July, it was pulling in about 3,000 page views a week. Now it’s pulling in over 30,000. That’s still not a lot, but it’s a good growth pattern. Typical daily page views of around 4,000 suggest there are several hundred individual visitors each day.

Adding links to WHM from Wikipedia articles that relate to the White House has been the most help, but a fair number of hits come from MySpace pages, most of which seem to be leeching photos (linking directly to them to be served from my host when someone looks at their page). I don’t really understand why Dorishemar would want a picture of George Bush’s sitting room as her background, much less why Rory the Bass would want the Presidential Park diagram as his. And I’m completely baffled as to why Budd Dwyer Suicide Fan Club would want a picture of Harry Truman’s bowling alley prominently displayed along with Ronald McHitler.

Top 11 Queries that bring visitors to WHM:

  • white house museum (multiple variations)
  • white house bowling alley
  • butler’s pantry
  • white house floor plan
  • resolute desk
  • white house swimming pool
  • roosevelt room
  • white house residence
  • tennis
  • truman balcony
  • oval office

No foolin’

Changed the front page to one of JBK’s 1962 bedroom, with the twin mattresses belted together. If only the SelectComfort Sleep Number bed had been available—a 1 for Jackie and a 99 for Jack. As it was, Jack’s side was stuffed with horsehair and Soviet communiques and topped with a slab of concrete. Jackie’s side was stuffed with the softest angora from 300 bunnies, kept in suspension by circulating air breathed by a chorus of Catholic choir boys singing “Ave Maria.” No foolin’.