DC trip

Finding myself with still more time on my hands and access to air and hotel points, I’ve booked a trip to Washington, DC for next Thursday. It’s too short of notice to get a ticket to the WH tour, but that’s how my business trips to DC have been in the past too. I’ll knock around the town for a couple of days and plan a more comprehensive trip with WH tour for a few months from now.

Of course, I had tried to plan a trip with WH tour for sometime in June, but as I researched it, I came to think that I wouldn’t be able to get WH tickets. After talking to the local congressman’s office, I found that, with advance notice, a small group could be accommodated in a larger group that is already going.

Jefferson’s White House and ours

Finally got a chance to read thru WH History #17, which explores Jefferson’s White House and includes a few terrific recent photos, which I’ve added. The part on Jefferson is rather thin on details about the house itself and deals more with servants and dining, but it did provide some interesting tidbits that I added to the 1803 first floor plan. I’ve also added a separate page for Jefferson’s enhancements to the house.

UPDATE: New Green Room from Time.

WH in HD

Stephen M writes:
I have been watching C-Span’s Presidential Libraries series. Tonight on the segment from President Truman’s library, the moderator and Richard Norton Smith were discussing Mr. Truman’s renovation and it was announced that a new White House program will be released in the Spring.

They are supposedly filming in HD at the White House currently, according to the moderator. They also said it would “show the White House like you’ve never seen before.” We’ll see about that I guess.

They said to keep watch for future information releases on the video, that it should be sometime after the primaries in the Spring.

White House Museum library

One thing that struck me about the Lincoln Museum is the library attached to it. One section was a small private collection of books about all the presidents (“Someone wrote a book about Millard Fillmore?” Yep.) It has convinced me that any real White House Museum also needs a research library—broader, but not as deep as any of the existing presidential libraries.

Ooh, I just thought of something. The library could be built as a replica of the Taft-Hoover West Wing, with a replica of the original Oval Office as the centerpiece.

Lincoln Museum

I spent a few hours at the Lincoln Museum today, and the experience was terrific. The exhibits consisted of life-like figures, multimedia displays, and lots of giant documents. There wasn’t a lot in the way of personal memorabilia, tho; I think I could have fit everything they had that Lincoln actually touched in the trunk of my car. It would have been nice to see, you know, Lincoln’s limousine or helicopter or something, like at the Reagan museum. They did have an impressive recreation of his funeral, tho, which is something I guess. You won’t find that at the Clinton museum. Also, by the end of it, I really wanted an interactive experience where you get to spank Tad Lincoln.

Some of the multimedia displays were really, really cool. Projectors threw shadows of rain on the wall or images of naysayers in mid-air. There was a gallery of political cartoons that could have been boring, but they were framed in crooked frames and hung on crooked walls, which created a disorienting effect that would be fun to replicate with my own photos. The whole White House part had a funhouse atmosphere that made me half-expect to see ladies’ dresses flipped up by a blast of air at the end (accompanied by the disembodied laughter of Tad, naturally).

There was a recreation of the Blue Room, guest bedroom (where Willy lay in a fever), and Lincoln’s office, all of which gave me a deeper appreciation of Victorian style.

I would have taken more pictures, but they don’t allow photos in the exhibits, because they don’t want people stealing all their juicy history or possibly learning anything outside the museum. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was the same way. Hey, if you want to see Roy Orbison’s lousy spelling* or Britney Spear’s denim-and-leather-flames ensemble, you’ll have to go to Cleveland. That kind of knowledge isn’t free.

* To be fair, every example of original song lyrics had lousy spelling, even Robbie Robertson’s.


Joe asks:

Any reason the Monroe era sofa in the Blue Room has been replaced by the McKim, Mead, and White sofa? And if so what happened to the earlier sofa?

I don’t know of a reason, so we might put it down to taste. And sometimes furniture is switched so it can be repaired or reupholstered. I don’t think the Monroe sofa would be put anywhere else.

Oval Office rug mouse pads

After I mentioned it on the Facebook discussion about WH product wish-lists, I traded a couple of notes with a contact from MouseRug about the possibility of them creating mouse pads of the Oval Office rugs. They’re going to look into it.

I’ve added pics of the Reagan and Bush 2 rugs and improved the Clinton one, but the quality isn’t the best (the Bush rug is really Pete’s repro). I had inquired with the National Archives a year ago about photos of OO rugs and got an ambivalent response, but no follow-up.

McKim’s drawings

The Library of Congress is pile of cheeky monkeys, teasing us with McKim’s White House drawings but not making them available online. I’m not sure if that link will even work. There’s no proper perma-link listed. If not, I searched for “temporary executive offices”.

UPDATE: Changed the link. Maybe that will work better. You can also go to the search page and search for “temporary executive offices”.