State Dining Room

Added some photos to the State Dining Room page showing the same kind of changes—chandeliers, Johnson’s geometric walls being repainted—thru the 1870s and 1880s that are apparent in other rooms.

It’s too bad that Johnson didn’t have the whole mansion properly photographed before his daughter made it over, so that we’d have a better historical record of the house in Lincoln’s time. After all, they knew they were living in an extraordinary time and that Lincoln was destined to be a major historical figure.

UPDATE: Holy crap, I rushed my birthday. When I wrote this post late last night, I post-dated it and skipped a day. Hurray! I’m still only 39! In your face, Jack Benny!

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17 thoughts on “State Dining Room

  1. Ok, yes – I DO have a life aside from checking out the new stuff on the WHM website – but few things are as much fun…

    I just noticed something I had never noticed before – on the 1867 photo you just posted of the State Dining Room, there are no windows flanking the fireplace – and in the 1873 photo, there definitely are. At first I thought that particular image might be flopped, but even if it was, there would be doors into the Red Room. So I went to the main page of the “First Floor” section and scrolled down to check out the earlier floor plans – and lo and behold, on the 1853 floor plan there were indeed no windows flanking the west wall fireplace – only false ones showing from the outside. Then I scrolled up to the c.1880 plan and by then the windows had been opened up and elaborately treated.

    I know we had recently been talking about the covered-over windows in the East Room, but I had never noticed this in the old State Dining Room before.

    Well, I’m just flummoxed – flummoxed, I tell you.

  2. Ok, yes – I DO have a life aside from checking out the new stuff on the WHM website – but few things are as much fun…

    I just noticed something I had never noticed before – on the 1867 photo you just posted of the State Dining Room, there are no windows flanking the fireplace – and in the 1873 photo, there definitely are. At first I thought that particular image might be flopped, but even if it was, there would be doors into the Red Room. So I went to the main page of the “First Floor” section and scrolled down to check out the earlier floor plans – and lo and behold, on the 1853 floor plan there were indeed no windows flanking the west wall fireplace – only false ones showing from the outside. Then I scrolled up to the c.1880 plan and by then the windows had been opened up and elaborately treated.

    I know we had recently been talking about the covered-over windows in the East Room, but I had never noticed this in the old State Dining Room before.

    Well, I’m just flummoxed – flummoxed, I tell you.

  3. Very good! It’s a wonder what these photos reveal sometimes. I was just noticing that pictures of the window treatments get rares as you go back, since photographers would naturally want to shoot with the light at their backs to take advantage of the natural light rather than fighting it.

    I can’t imagine what a nightmare it must have been working with wet plates with an ASA of about 5, no flash or floodlamps, and iffy shutter timings.

  4. If I remember correctly, the windows in the State Dining Room were opened up to provide access to the enlarged conservatory. I think this happened in the Hayes administration.

    There is a photo taken during the demolition of the conservatory that shows these windows from the outside. They did not line up with the exterior openings because the chimney breast would have been in the way.
    Chris

  5. Well, anonymous – as we say here in New Orleans: “The future just isn’t what it used to be!”

    Chris – did you mention this before? I was having some computer issues a few days ago – couldn’t log on to “blogger” – but I seem to vaguely recall this being mentioned.

    Derek – I remember we talked a while back about the chimney “Breast Reduction” in the Blue Room during the 1902 Renovation, but I’m just at a complete loss for words when the breast is in the wrong place.

  6. John in NOLA: I mentioned this late on an old East Room thread, so I don’t know whether anyone saw it, which is why I mentioned it again.

    Chris (a.k.a., the wheezing geezer of Yonkers. You’re all a bunch of young whippersnappers!)

  7. Re: the “breast reduction” in the Blue Room, I think McKim may have lowered the ceiling in there as well. Seale said it was always lower than the Red and Green rooms until Truman, when the Red and Green room ceilings were lowered to match, but I think he may be wrong about that. Comparing 19th and 20th century photos it looks like the Blue Room ceiling may have been a little higher before 1902. Also, in Abbie Rowe’s deconstruction photos, it’s obvious that the Blue Room underwent major reconstructive surgery in 1902 — far more than the Red and Green rooms.
    Chris (dealing with a mid-life crisis BIG-TIME! Backwards puberty sucks!)

  8. Poor Derek – as the precious sparkling grains of his youth quickly cascade into the bottom of the hourglass…

    All he has to look forward to now – Arch supports – fiber supplements – a walker…

    Derek, I can *assure* you that there is live between 40 and the nursing home.

    So what did Mc Kim DO with that extra space above the State Rooms?! Somehow I don’t think it was for airconditioning ducts!

    Mid-life John, heading out to a Big Party in the French Quarter!

  9. If 40 is the new 20, I’m only 27. Gotta love the math. BTW does anyone know if the two tennis players in the picture a few days ago played a part in the renaming of the “Rose Suite”? Inquiring minds want to know.

  10. If 40 is the new 20, I’m only 27. Gotta love the math. BTW does anyone know if the two tennis players in the picture a few days ago played a part in the renaming of the “Rose Suite”? Inquiring minds want to know.

  11. Well, as a good Episcopalian (and Presbyterian minister’s kid), I have to uphold our reputation as party animals – So here I am between a “mixer” and the Big Party…

    So Derek, if I happen to be comatose in the morning, I hope you have a wonderful birthday – and have many, many more. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say how very much I appreciate your putting together this amazing website – and your constant work to improve it and make it the unpresidented (pun intended) resource for White House research that it is!

    John

  12. Thanks for the encouragement. Your kind words may give me the strength to go out and buy a sports car now.

    And, not to give creedence to those ridiculous rumors about he-man Bill Tilden that Stephen is alluding to, but does anyone know just when the old tennis courts were removed and when the current tennis courts were constructed?

  13. Happy Birthday, Derek!

    We’re all grateful that you have brought all of us White House “Geeks” together. It’s been great fun!

  14. Happy Birthday, Derek!

    Thanks for providing a place for White House aficionados.

    In regard to the State Dining Room windows, I wonder if they were enclosed during the post-fire reconstruction? Based on the wallpapered walls on each side of the fireplace, it appears that the windows are covered over in the 1846 photograph of President Polk and his cabinet.

    The 1846 State Dining Room photo is fascinating not only for it being the earliest known photograph taken inside the White House, but also for the details you can pick out such as the wallpaper design, the mirror over the fireplace and the chandelier reflected in the mirror.

    Another photo taken during the Polk administration that is of personal interest is the one of President and Mrs. Polk, James Buchanan, Harriet Lane, Thomas Hart Benton and Dolley Madison on the South Portico. I am distantly related to James K. Polk on my mother’s side of the family through marriage between the Polks and the Alexanders here in Charlotte. I’m also distantly related to Thomas Hart Benton on my father’s side of the family. The two families were “bridged” together, so to speak, over one hundred years later through the union on my mother and my father.

    On a side note, Lady Bird Johnson came to Charlotte in May 1968 to help commemorate the city’s bicentennial. She visited the James K. Polk birthplace, located just south of Charlotte, and attended a tea at the Hezekiah Alexander house. Hezekiah Alexander, who is my great-grandfather several times back, built the house, which is Charlotte’s oldest surviving structure, in 1774. At this tea, a reporter told Mrs. Johnson that George Washington dismissed Charlotte as a “trifling place” upon touring the town during his presidency in 1791. Mrs. Johnson, ever the diplomat, told the reporter perhaps President Washington’s unflattering description of Charlotte could be attributed to him being tired from riding on horseback all day. The lady was a class act.

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