Junk and stuff

Added some more pictures from the LOC, NYPL, John in NOLA, and other acronyms.

I’ve been sequencing the NYPL pics of the East, Green, and Red rooms, scanning for all the little details that indicate the date (since almost none of them are dated) and I’m getting a little dizzy. I think it’s all the 3D effects from looking at the stereographs.

UPDATE: Link to WHHA PDF where I got the 1918 China Room pic, also containing the pic of Gugler’s Oval Office design with different 1934 window treatment.

21 thoughts on “Junk and stuff

  1. The image identified as “Painted depiction of the south face, circa 1820, before the portico was added”, is – as I understand it – a photo of a little watercolor rendering painted by the Baroness Hyde de Neuville, who was the wife of the French Minister to the United States. (There is a painting of the North Front of the White House, depicted by the Baroness, on page 66 of William Seale’s “The White House – History of an American Idea”). I’ve been told that this image didn’t come to light until after Seale’s book was published. As far as I know, it has never been published before – it has just been floating around among a group of White House buffs.

    This is an amazing image – the only one I know of painted “from life” of the South Front of the White House before the South Portico was completed. Note that the balustrade (railing at the top of the stone walls) is not complete at the center of the house. This omission evidently was intentional – the house was reconstructed anticipating the construction of the South Portico, which was finished in 1824.

    Also note that the structure that forms the floor of the South Portico also seems to be in place, in this picture. This is the part of the house where the bathrooms opening off the China Room and Map Room are located today. No outside stairs yet, in 1820, though. And obviously no columns yet. Jefferson’s wings are also seen here.

    The Tiber Creek runs in the foreground – where Constitution Ave, is today. You can see the people strolling and the horseman troting along it’s banks. That little brick arched opening is either a tunnel or a sewer opening – I’ll have to check that out in Seale’s “The President’s House.

    The baroness was quite good at sketching – I’ve seen some pictures she did of New York City and she was very good at rendering detail – so this is probably pretty much exactly what she saw in front of her that day!

  2. I’m sorry – it’s late… and I’ve been working on computer stuff – the image I was refering to in the post above can be found on the “What’s New” page of this website.

  3. This is the first time I’ve seen this “Painted depiction of the south face….” The only view of the south facade I’ve seen without the portico was the conjectural view done by the WHHA a couple of years ago, and that shows the facade before the 1814 fire.

    Exceedingly great cool!

  4. Great pictures! I really liked the China Room. It was nice to see the Lincoln China and the (Lincoln?
    Arthur? TR/McKim?) Fire Extinguisher.

  5. I love where it says: “China used by the presidents” , above the cabinets. That’s just a hoot.

    Dennis, we could check and see if there’s a National Register of Historic Fire Extinguishers. Maybe it’s filled with compressed hot air from Congress. They would certainly have an unlimited supply of that…

  6. OK that “China Room in 1918” picture – there are 5 sections to the cases displaying the china – but only 2 doors – one at each end! They must have removed the middle doors for this picture. I wonder about stuff like that. I don’t really know why… : )

  7. That’s a fantastic photo of the fanlight transom over the East Room doorway. It’s a shame that it, along with Hoban’s arched colonnade between the Entrance Hall and the Cross Hall, was removed during the TR remodeling.

  8. That’s a fantastic photo of the fanlight transom over the East Room doorway. It’s a shame that it, along with Hoban’s arched colonnade between the Entrance Hall and the Cross Hall, was removed during the TR remodeling.

  9. Hmmmmm… I just noticed something. On the “What’s New” section of the website, under the date August 21, 2007, just underneath the pic of Ike’s office looking the fireplace, there is that pic of the replica of FDR’s Oval Office, from the Roosevelt Library. Why the white walls? Why aren’t they painted green? We already know the 1909 O.O. was green – and I know from reading Seale’s “The President’s House” that FDR specifically requested grey-green walls in the 1934 “corner office” (today’s Oval Office). Seems to me that if they went to all the trouble of replicating the office – down to the funny eagle-valance curtains – that they would have painted – or not painted – the walls green for a reason.

    Could the walls in the 1930 Hoover Oval Office been white?

  10. With regard to Eric’s post, if you look at the Cross Hall photo of 1898 that Derek has on the website, you can see a fanlighted transom at the other end of the hall too, leading into what was then the main staircase and is now part of the State Dining Room.

    I agree with you about McKim renovation’s removal of Hoban columns, fanlights, etc. McKim was brilliant at solving the circulation problems for the state rooms by using the east wing as a social entrance and the ground floor for guest support space. But he could have done all that and still kept Hoban’s Entrance and Cross Halls, State Dining Room, and East Room, or at least used Hoban’s ornamental vocabulary.

  11. I’m not sure we can trust the FDR library to show the Oval Office in a completely authentic manner. You will note from photos that along side and behind the desk there is furniture and lots of clutter. Unless out of camera range, this is not present in the FDR Museum/Library Oval Office.

    I would be inclined to go with Seale.

  12. Dennis, I’d also be inclined to go with Seale on the green walls – he has access to pretty much all the official information and all the archives that exist.

    About the Mc Kim renovation/Tiffany screen removal and the condition of Hoban’s screen of columns between the Entrance Hall and the Cross Hall:

    In 1902 Hoban’s rebuilt White House was only 85 years old! For us in 2007, an 85-year-old building was built in 1922. Not “historic” – just an old building! Even if you consider that in 1902, the White House was actually 102 years old – that still isn’t really that old. (I may have a bias here – I live in a house that’s 150 years old and it’s nowhere near the oldest house on the street)

    Mc Kim just didn’t have the historical perspective about the 1817 fabric of the house that we would today. It just wasn’t “sacred” like it would be to someone restoring a (an?) historic house today.

    Just for the sake of arguement, suppose that the McKim, Mead & White renovation of 1902 had never happened… That the White House interiors we've known (essentially) for 105 years never exixted and the State Floor was a mish-mash of all sorts of styles and peroids – I think it would be FACINATING to take it back to Hoban's 1817 interiors – with the ionic Entrance Hall column screen and the big fanlights over the doors to the East Room and entrance to the Stair Hall at the other end of the Cross Hall (No Mc Kim/no enlarged State Dining Room,remember…) And with the East Room as Jackson originally decorated it for the first time…

    Now THAT would be a restoration project!

    Of course now the 1902/1952 White House is historical in its own right and I would certainly leave it the way it is now. I’m sure I’m not pointing out anything that most of you don’t already know – I’m just thinking outloud and having fun!

  13. I agree with you John in NOLA. Not only is McKim’s work now “historic” and worthy of preservation, but even the 1948-52 work is now “historic.” While it would be fascinating to try to restore the White House to its post-fire appearance as Hoban designed it, it’s really impractical. Since virtually no original fabric exists, too much would be educated guess work. This is my problem with Thomas Jefferson’s restored Rotunda at the University of Virginia. An authentic McKim, Mead and White interior was torn out and replaced by a fake Jefferson interior. The “new” interior is now over 30 years old and it looks obviously 1970s and very dated. I am concerned about the current efforts going on at Montpelier for the same reason. Authentic early 20th century fabric is being removed to be replaced by fake late 18th/early 19th fabric, although I have to admit that the physical and documentary research at Montpelier is superb.

    Nevertheless, I wish McKim had kept more of Hoban’s design in his renovation. It’s not so much because I think Hoban was such an architectural genius. He wasn’t, but McKim was, but McKim’s genius was in making the White House a workable headquarters for the modern presidency, which mainly involved reworking the circulation patterns for large crowds. He could have made the basement useable, moved the Grand Stair and enlarged the State Dining Room while still preserving most of Hoban’s work and using Hoban’s established ornamental vocabulary for the parts that needed to be redesigned, like the State Dining Room. However, McKim was a child of his times, just as we are children of our time. I’m sure 30 or 40 years from now people will cluck their tongues over our restoration work and talk about how obviously “dated” it is.

  14. Yep – pretty much impossible to distance yourself from your own time. Can’t be done, kid – lord that sounds like Little Edie Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens!

    Hoban’s *real* genius was in getting along with President Washington – and giving Washington exactly what he wanted.

    I also have issues with The Rotunda at UVA – (cluck, cluck, pursed lips…)

    A couple of months ago there was an article in Antiques Magazine about the work at Montpelier – Cybelle Gontar, who wrote that article used to be a docent at the Gallier House (house museum here in N.O.)when I was a docent there (about 1993) and I remember doing tours with her. Nice person. Very bright! She’s now at the Metropolitan Museum in NY. Facinating work at Montpelier.

  15. I visited New Orleans back in 1986 or 87 and visited the Gallier House. It was wonderful (and wonderfully, if non-historically, air conditioned). However, I had the most fun climbing around the tower and attic of the cathedral and also St. Patrick’s Church.

    I’m not as young as I used to be. There’s no way I could handle that now. (Sigh.)

  16. Chris – airconditioning in N.O is a Good Thing. Patrick Snadon’s circa 1817 house is (by his own choice) authentically NON-air-conditioned. He says that he lives in the ’20s – not the *1820’s*, but the 1920’s!

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