Entrance Hall

Time‘s WH Photo Blog had a nice image of PM Blair departing thru the Entrance Hall, which for some reason, I haven’t found many good recent pictures. There is also an interesting one of the new Sit Room, but it seemed redundant with other new ones (ooh, how spoiled I am now!).

37 thoughts on “Entrance Hall

  1. Very nice photo! It’s good to see the McKim Chairs as they are used today, as well as the beautiful carved candelabra acquired by JBK for the Blue Room.

  2. I’m so sorry! Those are different candelabra than JBK’s for the Blue Room, which are actual winged figures holding up the candles.

  3. I’m so sorry! Those are different candelabra than JBK’s for the Blue Room, which are actual winged figures holding up the candles.

  4. How old are those curtains? I see them in photos from the 1980’s (the same for the East Room drapes.) I wonder if they are quietly replaced with identical curtains over time.

  5. What about the front doors on the north portico side…I have only recently seen wood doors with the exception of very old pictures of the white house. Where they just put in? I hate the look of the clear glass doors which always seem to have been there. It takes some of the formality away.

  6. I can confirm that along with the changes to the Sit Room and the PBR being more hi-tech that Bush is installing doors on the north portico similar to those used in Star Trek that making that “woosh” sound.

  7. It must be called the Sit Room (as opposed to the Stand Room) because there are so many chairs, right? (yuk-yuk…)

    Either those curtains have been there for a long, long time – or, as Scott W. says – they have replaced them with identical ones at least once. Good quality curtains can last and last. The blue toile ones in the Queen’s sitting room upstairs were installed during the Kennedy administration. In an article in “White House History” a while back, Bill Allman said the ones currently at the windows dated from that time!

    Of course that room is on the North side of the house – not the sunny southern side – and that may have something to do with those curtains lasting so long.

    I agree with Anonymous – the wood doors are nicer than the glass doors. I think the wood doors fold back into reveals when they are using the glass doors – or the glass vestibule. I believe the wood doors are a permanent part of the house and the glass doors, etc. can be set up and taken down as the need arises – perhaps is is used as a airlock in the winter?

  8. I have to imagine that they’ve considered installing a revolving door to keep out the drafts, but the jokes would be unbearable.

  9. To my knowledge the Red and Green room drapes date from the 1971 renovations by Mrs. Nixon. So, it makes sense that the Entrance Hall curtains can be 20 or more years old. As John in NOLA pointed out, quality can last and last; and in the WH I’m sure the care these curtains get is first rate!
    I do remember reading that Mrs. Clinton and Gary Walters decided the Blue Room drapes needed replacing b/c they appeared more teal than blue, but as was mentioned earlier, they were on that sunny south side of the house.
    I just think it is interesting that the drapes seemed to change so often prior to 1971-1972 but since 1972, with the exception of the State Dining Room and Blue Room, the State Floor drapes have stayed the same.
    By the way, it’s been four years since the WHHA published the 22nd edition of the White House: an Historic Guide (2003.) My math says this year should be the 23rd edition…has anyone heard anything about this? I can’t wait!

  10. There is always something that is a bit off in the WH Entrance Hall.
    It could use a large center table- maybe a large carpet too. A large period chandelier would look good over the center table. Instead of the Monroe pier table across from the stairs- maybe a fireplace with a couple of the 1902 Blue Room chairs on either side. The two settees acquired during the Kennedy admin. and placed on either side of the Entrance Hall next to the Cross Hall- are ugly with those strange posts sticking up on the sides of the settees. Send those to storage, or remove the posts!!! Time for new drapes too- perhaps something full length.

  11. What are you talking about Anonymous? The pillars? Is that what you mean by posts? They’re load bearing (sp)

  12. Re: Wingnut “posts”
    Scott “drapes”
    Oops, I was referring to the swan head figures “posts” that are on the front of the French settees near the Cross Hall.

    I’ve read that Laura is overseeing a long overdue redecoration of the Green Room. They are evidently planning on putting up new silk moire wallcovering- the original chosen by Jackie K. in 1962 and replaced again in 1971.
    I thought that I had also read that the Clintons oversaw a freshening of the Red Room in the 90’s. I think they replaced the drapes with the other fabrics.
    I believe the East Room drapes were replaced as well- perhaps during the Bush II admin.

    It’s too bad that neither the official WH site, or the Historical Assoc. site show all the rooms that are covered in the official guide book. I’d like to see the new Lincoln Sitting Room-very recently done by Laura B and her advisors. She evidently thought that the Clinton version was pretty bad and had it stripped soon after the Bushs moved in to the WH.

  13. I agree with Anonymous on those Kennedy Settees. I have always thought they looked ugly and strange.

    If you look closely at the door, you can see the wooden doors in the reveals. The wood is also overhead.

    I agree with Laura Bush. I didn’t like the Lincoln Sitting Room, either. To me, Hilary’s decor was a bit later than Lincoln, perhaps Grant or Hayes.

  14. Did Hillary Clinton redo the Lincoln Bedroom? I know she did the Lincoln Sitting Room in the Victorian taste, I thought Mrs. Bush redid the Lincoln Bedroom to “go” with the Lincoln Sitting Room. I could be wrong, but I simply don’t remember any signifigant changes to the LB during the Clinton years.

  15. let’s not forget that the State Dining Room was redecorated with new drapes and carpet some time in 1997..

  16. let’s not forget that the State Dining Room was redecorated with new drapes and carpet some time in 1997..

  17. Yes you are correct; the SDR was redone in 1997 and the Blue Room in 1995. I hope that the Green Room is being updated; it is over 35 years old!

    I personally think the entire state floor could use the Boudin touch!

  18. Hilary did the Lincoln Sitting Room; Laura did the Lincoln Bedroom.

    Hilary did the Blue Room and the State Dining Room, too.

  19. Re: Dennis/Lincoln Sitting Room

    Yes, it’s true that both the Lincoln Bedroom and Sitting Room were redone in 2006. There is a great article about it at Washington Post- 2/14/07 pub date.

  20. Hey, on an unrelated note, I have recently come into some information regarding a hidden staircase passage on the first floor.

    Would you guys like to know where it is? I wasnt sure if that kind of thing is allowed here.

  21. I agree with the comments about the Entrance Hall. It could use a more well thought out decor. I like the idea of a center table and carpet. The drapes should be full length and tie-back in design.

    On a related note- Does anyone know why the East Room drapes are not tie-backs? The Truman era design and color (yellow/gold)look much better than the straight hanging variety in place since 1965.

    I also think that the furniture in the Cross Hall needs to go.
    The 1902 Blue Room chairs are more fitting for the white marble background. And yes, get rid of those hideous French settees between the Entrance and Cross Halls- UGLY!!

  22. I remember reading that JBK did not like the drapes in the East Room being tied back because when they were ‘untied back’ in the evenings (closed) because they were wrinkled. Perhaps this was why the 1965 version (Installed by Lady Bird Johnson/Boudin but with the input of Mrs. Kennedy) has straight falling panels as well as the 1983 version installed by Mrs. Reagan. I do agree, however, that tied back looks nicer. I still like the Eisenhower East Room. If you can get ahold of the January 1961 copy of National Geographic it features the White House during the end of the Eisenhower administration. (I may be in the minority, but I love the rich bold colors of the Red, Blue and Green rooms chosen during the Truman renovation.)

  23. You can actually see the wrinkled East Room drapes in photos taken during the Kennedy years. Even though it seems they don’t close them much anymore, if they ever do, there would be wrinkles.

    Another change from TR to Eisenhower is the removal of the 4 marble top console tables that were placed between the ER windows to hold large plants. JBK moved the 4 torcheres into those places.
    She also removed the two blue sofas that are shown in the National Geographic article of 1961.

  24. I think the East Room is so much more attractive when there are no rugs on the floor and no plants in the plantboxes, as we sometimes see. As for the massive blue sofas, I am sure I may be banned for saying this, but I sorta liked them, just a little bit….
    Wouldn’t a good solution for the drapes to simply put straight-falling undercurtains beneath the tied-back drapes; and then you’d never have to close the actual drapes, just the undercurtains.

  25. I agree with Scott-tiebacks with undercurtains in the East Room would be great.
    The return of the sofas on the east wall would be a good addition. The carpets need to be removed- I don’t think that they are appropriate for the East Room setting.
    The sofas were removed during the initial Kennedy admin. days at the suggestion of advisors (Boudin perhaps)who felt they were not period correct and too large in scale for the room. It was Boudin’s idea to paint the four fireplaces white-I am glad they have returned them to the original color. It was also Boudin’s design for the East Room drapes that were installed in 1965. I think that the original design called for valances across the tops of the windows- but were never installed.

  26. Boudin and JBK didn’t see a fireplace that they didn’t want to paint or replace. I’m glad the original color has been restored to the East Room Fireplaces, as well as to the console and side tables in the state dining room.

    I agree about the ER carpets, though if they are going to have rugs,they have made a good choice with the design.

    The decision to put rugs in the East Room goes back to Barbara Bush, I was told, because she didn’t like the bare floor. For some time, a discarded rug from the State Dining Room was used in the East Room. It looked really strange.

  27. I totally agree with returning the mantels to their original appearance as well. It really makes the room even more elegant.

  28. Let me throw a twist in our discussion, as it has evolved from the Entrance Hall to the State Floor to now, the East Room. I was browsing through the photos of the ER that Derek has posted and when I got to the 1946 Truman pre-renovation era photos, I noticed the red. I know that the gold and white scheme dates to 1902; with red only substituted during FDR and WWII; however I actually liked the red. I think it looks regal and would be a nice change after 55 years of gold drapes (Truman era, Johnson-era, Reagan era.) Does anyone else think a return to red would be a nice change?

  29. Let me throw a twist in our discussion, as it has evolved from the Entrance Hall to the State Floor to now, the East Room. I was browsing through the photos of the ER that Derek has posted and when I got to the 1946 Truman pre-renovation era photos, I noticed the red. I know that the gold and white scheme dates to 1902; with red only substituted during FDR and WWII; however I actually liked the red. I think it looks regal and would be a nice change after 55 years of gold drapes (Truman era, Johnson-era, Reagan era.) Does anyone else think a return to red would be a nice change?

  30. No, I wouldn’t like the change. I think the gold is more stately and fits the room very well. Perhaps the red looked better in real life, but the photos of the red drapes and venetian blinds just make the room look like a hotel ballroom, IMHO.

  31. I agree with Scott, red drapes might be a good change. Certainly someone in 1800 had red drapes in their ballroom. Remove the carpets, maybe add a large center table and add two sofas under the Washington portraits. Perhaps if Hillary does become president- we can talk to Bill about our suggestions.

  32. Or perhaps even a red and gold stripe? You get the best of both worlds, both are regal colors…just a thought. I like Luke’s idea about the center table and the sofas under the Washington portraits. Whoever the next First Lady/Gentleman is, I’m curious to see what changes will be made!

  33. I would love to see red curtains returned to the East Room! Charles McKim intended for the room to have red curtains from the beginning – but Edith Roosevelt vetoed that, choosing lemon silk ones instead.

    I’d love to see red curtains – tied back – with white undercurtains. It still looks fine with gold curtains, but my own personal preference is for red.

    And I also agree that the mantles and baseboards in the East Room look much better unpainted – with the marble revealed. It just seems more “honest” to me. You have to remember that when Jackie and Boudin painted the mantles in 1961 that they were still very much under the influence of the Colonial Revival/Pale “Williamsburg” colors era. Pale colors were seen as more “tasteful” than bright ones then. Now even Williamsburg houses glow with the bright colors we now know were used in earlier days – and I think the 1952 East Room mantles – even though they are of a much deeper “red” marble than the McKim mantles of 1902 – look great in the room.

    Also agree that the Entrance Hall needs (a) to have the McKim lantern returned and (b) needs to have a wonderful Lannuier (sp?) round table (like the one at the Metropolitan, in the American Wing) underneath it.

  34. Hooray for Edith Roosevelt!!

    Perhaps the red color didn’t stick because in reality it didn’t look as rich or as appropriate to the room. Obviously, the decision was made at the time of the Truman renovation to return to gold draperies, after having had red for some years. Does anyone know when the red went up?

  35. The red East Room draperies were installed during the FDR years.
    Does anyone know if this was in the thirties of forties?
    Also, thanks to John/nola for adding some historical perspective to the ER discussion. I did not know that Chas. McKim suggested red draperies.

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